By Ryan Keating-Lambert
An engaging romance that never falls victim to cliche, and a superb performance by newcomer Timothée Chalamet.
Set in 1983, teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending the summer at his parent’s 17th century villa in Italy when he meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a doctoral student visiting Elio’s professor father. As tensions mound, the two soon develop more than just a friendship.
The awards buzz and seemingly limitless hype and fuss around this film and its enigmatic leads almost put me off altogether. I love awards season but this one was really blown out of proportion. I was pleasantly surprised however, to see an intense summer romance movie that never conforms to typical stereotypes.
Director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) has put together a very well directed adaptation of the André Aciman novel. It’s a summer love affair that stays true to the realism of the chase in all their glorious subtleties. It’s never too tragic, and it’s never too silly. The tension between Chalamet and Hammer is also exquisite and there’s no denying that the two have chemistry.
Chalamet in particular embodies teen sexuality so well (ie. that peach scene). If Elle Fanning is the face for women, then Chalamet must surely be her male equivalent. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of him in the future I’m sure. Elio’s frustration is just so relatable. Hammer is also not without charm and plays Oliver the American exchange student well. Confident, intellectual and almost arrogant, but with quieter moments of self-reflection and peace in the company of Elio.
The surrounding Italian landscape is captured beautifully by DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and looks effortlessly ’80s. Like the dialogue, production design and costumes, the cinematography has a subtle beauty that’s never overly stylised. It’s so easy to go overboard with ’80s rubbish these days, and this film keeps it elegant. The shorts are very short though, and apparently Hammer had his hammer out at one point.
Then there’s the music. Sufjan Stevens’ dreamy tracks are ideal for the unconventional love story. There’s no shortage of European pop music or classical tracks either. The album is a must for the summer road trip you’ve been planning.
The film is also now an Oscar winning screenplay thanks to James Ivory, the talented writer/director behind classics like A Room With A View. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor for Timothée Chalamet, and Best Song for Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Mystery of Love’.
Guadagnino has already expressed interest in making sequels so perhaps this could be the next Before Sunrise trilogy? Sounds good.
Call Me By Your Name is arriving a little late to Czech cinemas, but a little earlier thanks to Febiofest. Catch it at the festival this week, and nationally from March 22.
Photo: Teaser Trailer