October 5, 2017

VIFF 2017 | 'Call Me by Your Name' is Intoxicating

"Cinema is a mirror of reality."
VIFF 2017 | Armie Hammer Timothée Chalamet Luca Guadagnino | Call Me by Your Name

VIFF 2017—Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino has crafted another sensual tale of beautiful but forbidden romance set against his usually breathtaking European backdrop. Based on André Aciman's novel of the same name, Call Me by Your Name expresses one magical 1983 summer of coming-of-age somewhere in Northern Italy.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet star as Oliver and Elio, a 24-year-old Jewish-American academic and 17-year-old Jewish-Italian-American professor's son, spending the summer with Elio's family at their villa reading and researching. Their burgeoning relationship amidst the hazy, beautiful setting of the Italian countryside is expressed beautifully. The two are so loving, tender, and careful with each other in small moments of wonder.

Hammer gives an outstanding performance using his effortless good looks and stature to get across an underlying vulnerability that showcases his character actor prowess. Chalamet has the more charismatic, lively performance despite Elio's more insular nature and Oliver's outwardly confident arrogance. It's a mesmerizing portrayal of burgeoning young adulthood.

Michael Stuhlbarg makes the best case for empathy as Elio's lovingly understanding father. His relationship to his son is revealed to a beautifully touching and close.

VIFF 2017 | Armie Hammer Timothée Chalamet Luca Guadagnino | Call Me by Your Name

Adapted by writers James Ivory and Walter Fasano, the script makes significant changes to the source material as it never departs from their youth and only briefly reflects on the impact of their relationship. With songs by Sufjan Stevens, the atmospheric tone of the film replicates a deep memory of moments and interactions wondrously.

Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's work on the film perfectly captures the fleeting nature of extended stays with long, continuous but casual shots documenting these small reflections on life. He perfectly frames their initially growing distance contrasted with their deep sensual closeness later on.

Like Brokeback Mountain, Call Me by Your Name is less markedly about gay love than an affecting forbidden love story and the exploration of human attraction. It's effortlessly bisexual themes of discovering love, intimacy, and sex are splendidly intoxicating. It's a moving yet restless portrait of the anguish of first love and discovering your sexual identity. It's simply beautiful to watch.

Call Me by Your Name screened at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Panorama stream.


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