Opening March 1, 2018
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Writing credits: screenplay by James Ivory, based on the novel by André Aciman
Principal actors: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar
In the summer of 1983, seventeen-year old Elio (Chalamet) is at his family’s home in northern Italy. It’s a home filled with culture, where Elio’s piano playing fills the air and stacks of books are found in every room, where ideas are debated and feelings are discussed. Elios’s French mother (Casar) is beautiful and friendly. Elio’s American father (Stuhlbarg) is a professor of antiquities and his graduate student Oliver (Hammer) arrives at this paradise to spend the summer assisting the professor. Over the course of the next few weeks, Elio and Oliver grow close, drawn to each other’s intellect and charisma, and the seductive Italian landscape becomes the backdrop for a tender and joyous story of first love and self-discovery.
Call Me by Your Name exudes joy in a way that seems implausible in a story about a young man discovering his sexuality in the early 1980s. And yet director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory – who based their script upon the bestselling novel by André Aciman – have created a film that feels as intoxicating as the romance between the young men, infusing each scene with the magical beauty of the Italian setting. The movie runs the gamut of emotions, and the score, with original songs by Sufjan Stevens, is an essential element, emerging prominently at moments of emotional intensity. Chalamet is extraordinary in the role of Elio, effortlessly conveying the boy’s mixture of vulnerability and desire with an intrinsic truthfulness. Stuhlbarg, as Elio’s perceptive and open-minded father, has a heart-stopping monologue in which he offers his son the sort of unequivocal love that is rarely encountered in male relationships on screen.
Call Me by Your Name has been nominated for Best Picture at the 2018 Academy Awards and if I were a member of the Academy it would get my vote. This is tour de force, from the opening scene to the memorable last close-up. ( )