"Guadagnino has created a film in which emotions are at the centre of everything and, in doing so, the result is such a tender story that deeply moves the audience"
Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of the homonymous novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name is a coming of age story about a young boy exploring his sexuality with an older American guy during the summer of 1983.
Son of an American Professor and an Italian woman, Elio, an intellectual precocious 17 year old boy, every summer has to relinquish his room to his father’s graduate student coming to help for six weeks with his work on Roman and Greek statues.
When Oliver comes to the Perlman summer villa in Northern Italy, Elio is ready to dislike him; however, The graduate student’s good look, his openness and confidence entice him so strongly, leaving him confused and trying to repress any attraction for the American.
Coming to terms with his unknown feelings for this 24 years old man, makes Elio discover new emotions and explore his sexuality in different ways. In the weeks leading up to Oliver’s departure, they learn about one another, from sharing the same Jewish heritage to their love for the arts, while treasuring their secret love encounters together surrounded by the beautiful Italian countryside.
Adapted for the screen by James Ivory and directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is a delicate and poetic feature that explores young love and sexual awakening without exploiting it. Guadagnino is the most suitable director to tell Elio and Oliver’s story as his directing technique is not too intrusive. He lets the scene and the actors speak for themselves and the way in which the camera discretely follows the characters through their journey is quite romantic.
The atmosphere is peaceful, even though the protagonist is going through personal turmoil. The landscapes surrounding the summer villa are breathtaking and there is something refreshing in observing the youth experience life at its fullest through Guadagnino’s lenses.
Oliver and Elio’s relationship, under the director’s eye becomes something pure, the innocence in Elio’s discovery of his sexuality is not even cheapened by the sexual encounters he has with Oliver. On the contrary, it makes it even more powerful. Guadagnino silently follows them through their journey and the audience feels like peeking at a work of art without malice.
Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet have great chemistry together; the natural way in which they both portray Oliver and Elio respectively is breathtaking. The way in which their relationship grows and blossom through the film doesn’t feel rushed. And when they finally answer the call to their instincts and their attraction for one another, even the audience feels the tension disappearing to leave room for love and desire. However, what is portrayed on screen is nothing vulgar, even though some of the scenes can be quite explicit and the reason why is because both Guadagnino and Ivory only focused on Elio’s emotional journey rather than is sexual awakening, although neither exclude the other.
Hammer portrayed Oliver exquisitely, he is carefree and completely confident in his own sexuality as well as in his work. He doesn’t push Elio until he is ready to acknowledge his feelings. The way in which he understands his confusion and is ready to comfort Elio when he is feeling ashamed of himself is pure and deafening in its intensity.
Although young and with his first on screen experience Timothée gives a solid performance, his Elio is confident and cooky, however, in front of all these unexpected feelings for a man, he is capable of portraying Elio’s confusion and his fears so openly. His eagerness when he finally caves and expresses his love for Oliver is breathtaking and at the end of the movie, it becomes quite impossible to not be moved by him.
Call Me By Your Name is also a film that shows how easy it can be to accept a person we love for who they really are. In fact, some of the most tender moments in the film are the conversations Elio has with his parents. Both accept Elio and Oliver’s relationship with open hearts. They support his choices without judging him and they just want to see him happy. For a film set in 1983, the blind acceptance of te parents for their son is a breath of fresh air, moving away from a sad narrative of family conflict that has already been told.
Once again, with Call Me By Your Name, Guadagnino has created a film in which emotions are at the centre of everything and, in doing so, the result is such a tender story that deeply moves the audience. A story about discovering and acceptance, but most of all a story about pure, innocent love.