- 4 out of 5
Call Me By Your Name - a love story that will break your heart
With a running time of 132 minutes, this is probably the longest love story you will have seen in some time. Yet the film does not suffer from its length. There is not a moment of this delightful, yet-heart-wrenching story that does not belong up on the screen.
Call Me By Your Name, is the new film by Luca Guadagnino and is a sensual and transcendent tale of first love, based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman. It's the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old young man, spends his days in his family's 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), a translator, who favor him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American college graduate student working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio's father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
The setting, in a sun-drenched Italy adds to the overall sensual tone of the film. Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom films the Italian countryside in a way that creates warmth and really places the viewer in the heart of the natural beauty - the trees, the villages, the fountains, the lakes, the people - all are lovingly and invitingly filmed.
Timothée Chalamet infuses Elio with the right blend of naivete, curiosity and passion and is a delight to watch. We saw him previously in the underwhelming Lady Bird and the disappointing Interstellar. For me, the stand-out performance is Armie Hammer who, I will admit, to date has not impressed me. Here he is understated and warm, passionate, yet full of doubts and guilt. His character, Oliver is genuinely concerned about the well-being and impact of the relationship on Elio. Yes, both play games as they struggle with what is growing between them.
The ending has the predictability of all summer love stories. One of the outstanding moment for me was Elio's father, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, talks to Elio after Oliver has left. He waxes on life, love and the importance of opening your heart to others.
This may not be everyone's cup of tea, however if you want to understand your own teenager, this film is a good place to start. Elio plays out the angst, the doubt, the exploration, the guilt and the joy of finding oneself.