Presented at the Sundance Film Festival, and now screening at the Leeds International Film Festival, Call Me By Your Name is receiving acclaim across the globe. Adapted from André Aciman’s novel, Luca Guadagnino delivers a movie of uncommon delicacy, taste and beauty. During the summer of 1983, somewhere in Northern Italy, 17-years-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) begins a quest of sexual self discovery, awakened by the arrival of the 24-year-old student Oliver (Armie Hammer), who is visiting Professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg), Elio’s father.
The movie portrays a romantic, sensual and heart breaking love story. Elio is a complex and fascinating character: as fragile as an inexperienced teenager may be, although incredibly aware of his needs and desires, and brave in experimenting in the unknown. Elio is very relatable not only as everyone has been 17 at one point, but also because the movie is entirely from his his point of view. The director clearly wants us to see the world as Elio sees it; everything else is secondary to his emotions and needs. Nothing really matters to him apart from Oliver, the object of his desire, curiosity and love.
While the film seems very universal as the various characters speak a variety of languages, the director leaves his Italian mark here and there. Some of the characters that live in the house and some of the authors that Elio reads are Italian. However, Italy’s presence is strongly felt through in the political conversations that the characters have at the dining table. All of this is set in the natural beauty of a summery countryside house which features Roman antiquities that are studied by Elio’s father, who discovers their history and secrets. This creates a stunning and well developed parallel to Elio’s own self-discovery.
Tonally, the film masterfully alternates between tragic scenes and funny moments in a way that is enjoyable for the spectator. The cinematography also beautifully captures the Italian countryside and makes this film a visual feast.
Since Elio is the core of the movie, its success depend on the performance of Timothée Chalamet. Chalamet is unbelievably good and makes Elio a fully fleshed out character. Elio can be shy and confident, confused and determined, tender and unpleasant, and Chalamet captures it all perfectly.
Armie Hammer as Oliver perfectly balances the charisma of Elio; his performance delivers a confident but still insecure character, made fragile because of love. In short, both the two leads are exquisite to watch and must have been a challenge to pull off so well.
Call Me By Your Name is an intense and heartfelt love story and as is definitely worth seeing in cinemas. It would not come as a surprise if the film wasn’t a strong contender in awards season.
Stay with our coverage of LIFF 31, where we will have reviews for Animation Sunday, Dark River and My Friend Dahmer.
Call Me By Your Name is screening as part of LIFF 31 and is in cinemas nationwide now. Tickets for LIFF 31 are available from LeedsFilmCity.com. Image source: VanityFair.com