Film review: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Like a more lyrical, more physically and metaphorically sunlit Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name ,which is based on the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman, is a homoerotic tale bathed in Mediterranean summer heat and high culture.

Young up and comer Timothee Chalamet, who also co-stars in the Greta Gerwig’s excellent directorial debut Ladybird, stars as a highly intelligent, slightly awkward Jewish-American teen Elio Perlman living with his family in the picturesque Northern Italian countryside in 1983. When graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to intern for Elio’s archaeologist father (Michael Stuhlbarg) Elio initially resents the tall, worldly, over-confident American. At first it seems, Oliver’s rock star-like attraction for the local young ladies irks Elio but it soon becomes apparent that the grad student has elicited in Elio previously unknown feelings of same sex attraction.

This is a truly international film with it’s American cast, Italian director Luca Guadagnino (whose next project is a remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria), British writer James Ivory and Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. It essentially plays like a European arthouse film with American actors.

The story is by no means action-driven, so adrenaline junkies should keep well away nor is it plot-driven as the film mostly involves subtle exchanges between the characters lying on banana lounges. Instead, this film is about mood and character. Guadagino and cinematographer Mukdeeprom have conjured an exquisitely beautiful world full of languid images that comes close to the swooning atmosphere of Picnic at Hanging Rock. James Ivory also deserves special credit for his wonderfully articulate and learned dialogue that intertwines the human drama with history archaeology, philosophy and Italian politics.

Like the entire cast, Chalamet and Hammer are terrific, completely immersing themselves in their roles and convincing us of their feelings for each other as well as their intellectual gifts. Importantly, despite the fact that we empathise with their characters, they’re not idealised often displaying selfishness and petulance.

The film suffers a little from massive expectations arising from critical hype but it only just falls short of these and it’s certainly one of summer’s must-see films.

Nick’s rating: ****

Genre: Drama/ romance.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Luca Guadagnino.

Release date: 26th Dec 2017.

Running time: 132 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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