Call Me By Your Name

By Angie Raphael

4 stars

This film recognises a type of first-love not commonly represented on screen, yet is so important. Set in northern Italy in 1983, Call Me By Your Name is based on the novel by André Aciman about 17-year-old Elio (Timothee Chalamet), who develops a unique relationship with his father's research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). Writer James Ivory takes his time revealing the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the protagonists, and director Luca Guadagnino expertly provides subtle hints as to what the characters know and accept throughout the film. The cinematography is also exquisite, showing off the relaxing Italian countryside in summer and the tension of the sensuality building as the characters read, swim, play music and pluck fruit from trees. Chalamet is superb in the leading role, portraying a teenager torn over his complex emotions. While Hammer also gives a convincing and charming performance, he is supposed to be playing a man in his mid-20s but appears older than even his real age at the time of making the film, which would have been about 29 or 30. It means the film is open to the criticism that there is something predatory about the relationship between Elio and Oliver. However, the story is actually far more innocent and is indeed a beautiful coming-of-age romance, and even rather erotic in parts. Both Elio and Oliver are changed forever as a result of their brief but special time together, and for some, watching this film might just change them too.


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