Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 coming-of-age drama Call Me By Your Name is nothing short of a masterpiece. Set in Italy, during a summer in 1983, the film is a heart-warming, tender portrayal of first love and the inevitable heart break that accompanies it. It is based on André Aciman’s novel of the same name. It was mostly filmed around Crema, Moscazzano and Bergamo in Lombardy.
Elio (Timothée Chalamet), is away for the summer in northern Italy with his parents. A yearly ritual, the family spends weeks in their palatial summer house in a little town in Italy. Elio’s father, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) a scholar, invites one of his graduate students every year to join the family on their retreat.
Together they revel in intellectual discourse and research ancient history. Elio spends his listless days aimlessly roaming around the town, spending time with the locals, reading and making music. The director creates an exquisite other-worldly mood with the setting and the background score. The endless summer is as much of a character in the film as anybody else.
Oliver and Elio’s budding summer romance
The arrival of Oliver (Armie Hammer), the favoured grad student for this particular year, sends Elio’s summer into a tizzy. Oliver is a brash American; his character’s initial arrival seems like the complete antithesis to what the film had set up thus far. But over time, we come to see his character in a different light.
Elio’s relationship with Oliver undergoes very quick transitions, from initial curiosity, to hostility and finally culminates into a beautiful romance. As Elio questions his budding sexuality, he finds himself drawn to Oliver’s persona. The pervasive sensuality in the film is never provocative for the sake of it; every scene, every gesture is heartfelt and authentic.
Elio’s teenage crush on Oliver is set up in beautiful ways. His urgency to spend time with him, the way he vies for his attention and simply in the way he looks at Oliver, is enough to make the viewer understand the inner turmoil he’s going through. Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet’s chemistry is poetic; every interaction is overflowing with tension and tenderness. The film is immensely emotional. Watching Elio and Oliver slowly drift towards each other is wonderful to witness.
The plot of the film mimics the endless summer it depicts-languid and easy, it moves from frame to frame, lingering on little details that remain with you long after the film is over. The melancholy that pervades this film is at once overwhelming and simultaneously calming
Italy is shot stunningly. As Elio and Oliver spend the summer idling away in lakes and fields on cycles in cobblestoned streets, northern Italy forms the perfect backdrop. The scenery is as evocative as Elio and Oliver’s blossoming relationship. The world created in Call Me By Your Name exists in a vacuum. It’s a world of music, of literature, of knowledge and open conversation. It’s almost too beautiful to exist; perhaps that realisation makes the film even more enjoyable.
Call Me By Your Name is an ode to the enduring nature of love, no matter how fleeting it can sometimes feel.
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