Call Me By Your Name completes Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Desire Trilogy’ offering some powerful eroticism and raunchiness, a pair of uninhibited lead performances and, it must be said, a certain tendency to ramble on just a bit.
With a script by no less than James Ivory as drawn from André Aciman’s 2007 novel, it’s a multilingual coming-of-age story in which the two lovers just happen to be guys.
In a fairly convincing-looking 1983 we meet 17 year old Elio (the New-York-born Timothée Chalamet), who lives somewhere in the gorgeous Northern Italian countryside with his parents (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and is enjoying an aimless summer. His Dad is a professor of archaeology and he invites an American student named Oliver (Armie Hammer, initially cast after he appeared in The Social Network) to work with him for six weeks as they tend to academic paperwork and check out recently uncovered ruins. When Elio and Oliver first meet there’s no spark, yet, somehow, Elio finds himself increasingly uneased and edgy without really knowing why.
A proper attraction between the two does develop, however, as they take walks, cycle through town and beyond, open up about their lives, exchange sharp jokes about their Jewishness and, later, when Elio watches the hunky Oliver dance with swooning girls at a disco (where The Psychedelic Furs’ Love My Way pointedly plays). Elio tries to start something with a visiting French student named Marzia (Esther Garrel) to distract himself, but it’s too late. Soon he and Oliver are enjoying an intense summertime romance in scenes that aren’t especially explicit but nevertheless prove steamy.
Too long at 132 minutes, Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name still has much that impresses, from the beautiful, sometimes sun-struck cinematography to the occasionally cutting humour to Timothée’s spot-on portrayal of surly teenage awkwardness to Hammer’s more knowing sexiness.
Rated M. Call Me By Your Name is in cinemas now.