A sun-soaked cinematic ode to the ecstasy and exquisite pain of first love is how you could describe Luca (A Bigger Splash) Guadagnino’s new romantic drama Call Me By Your Name (now on general release), adapted from André Aciman’s coming-of-age novel.
It is the summer of 1983 in northern Italy and Elio Perlman, a musically gifted 17-year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s villa, lazily transcribing music and flirting with his girlfriend Marzia. One day Oliver, a 24-year-old American doctoral student on a six-week research trip arrives as the annual summer intern, tasked with helping Elio’s father a professor specialising in Greco-Roman culture. While Oliver slips effortlessly into the heady rhythm of the Italian summer – al fresco dining, bicycle rides and midnight wings – Elio’s relationship with Marzia is soon eclipsed by a more sensual, volatile attraction as Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will change their lives forever.
This is a movie that luxuriates in classical art, poetry and music, as much as it relishes the candy-coloured gay relationship at its core. Guadagnino, working from a screenplay by James Ivory, lingers on fleeting moments of desire, jealousy and affirmation. However, the pace is languorous and takes a while to really get into its stride. Furthermore, the dialogue lacks bite, with the result that this is a film which looks great but lacks depth.
The performances though are all commendable, particularly newcomer Timthée Chalamet as Elio and Armie Hammer as the handsome and charming Oliver.
What for me really stands out is the movie’s excellent musical soundtrack – from Elio’s renditions of a Bach Capriccio to the Psychedelic Furs’ anthemic Love My Way – which does much to enhance this evocation of heady romance and passion.
Call Me By Your Name
Released nationwide 27 October 2017Last modified: October 27, 2017