Film Review: Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name manages to balance the tricky task of being simultaneously romantic and realistic. Luca Guadagnino’s film is brilliant.

Elio spends every summer with his family at their summer house in northern Italy. They are joined by his father’s graduate student, Oliver. He is a handsome and confident young man, who grabs Elio’s attention…

Based on the novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name is beautifully written and endlessly engaging. The film blends a coming of age story with a classic romance. The film has a universal quality which will resonate with a diverse demographic. Set in the early 1980s, the film does deal with the difficulty in expressing same-sex attractions. Whilst this plays a role, the emphasis is on a burgeoning love story.

Guadagnino manages to get the tone right throughout the film. The film is incredibly romantic, with its picturesque setting, its beautiful protagonists, and its endearing love story. Yet at the same time, the film feels realistic. This is especially true of Elio, in his adolescent awkwardness. It works well that viewers are positioned with this young protagonist. His longing, his tentativeness, his emotion are all recognisable for anyone who has been in love, at whatever age.

The characters in Call Me By Your Name are given sufficient depth and nuance. Oliver’s arch is particularly pleasing to watch, for the most part at least. Elio, meanwhile is talented and inexperienced, nervous and exuberant. Armie Hammer is well cast as Oliver. The actor is authentic and perfectly pitched as the handsome smart and charming newcomer. Timothée Chamalet is brilliant as Elio; he plays the character with such sincerity. Michael Stuhlbarg gives a great performance also, with a stand out scene later in the film.

Part of the film’s beauty is in its telling of the story, the relationship develops gently, with plenty of moments of affection, nervousness, and humour. Call Me By Your Name just might by the most romantic film of the year.

Call Me By Your Name is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2017.

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