Wrapping up director Luca Guadagnino’s self-proclaimed ‘Desire’ trilogy (including I am Love and A Bigger Splash), Call Me by Your Name is a melancholic yet wise and powerful coming of age tale. Timotheé Chalament plays Elio, a 17-year-old living in 1980s Italy. An academic named Oliver (Armie Hammer) comes to stay with Elio and his parents over the summer, and the two bond over their Jewish heritage and love of the landscape, and soon enough a romance begins to bloom between them despite their age difference.
One can draw many impactful themes from the film, most notably the power of first love and all the drama that it entails, both magical and confusing. We see this through Elio’s eyes, and since his character is still figuring himself out, each moment and decision of importance to him feels of similar importance to us also. His indecision and feelings are engaging as they are crucial to the film and its themes, reaching their peak in an incredible scene towards the film’s end between Elio and his father. Everything functions to perfection in this moment, the acting and writing most notably, creating one of the year’s best cinematic moments.
But the strengths of these elements are not limited solely to that scene. Throughout the film Hammer and Chalament’s chemistry is impeccable, and the film’s side characters are also vivaciously charming – especially Michael Stuhlbarg as Elio’s father. Everyone embraces their roles wonderfully, assisted by a warm, sharp script that gives the film’s dialogue, setting and central conflict a human feel. The characters and the drama feel real to us, making their indecisions and uncertainties all the more compelling.
Overall the film just looks great too. The cinematography and accompanying colour palette are gorgeous, contrasting the film’s tone on occasion but strengthening the overall message. The film is grounded in reality yet treats first love like a fantasy, portraying how this heightened experience is for everyone regardless of gender, sexuality or setting. The film emits a sage, comforting atmosphere because of this, and thus Call Me by Your Name elevates itself from an astute story of sexual awakening to something even more special – a poignant, dauntless and splendidly-made commentary on romance, and a must-see film.
This film will screen at the Glasgow Film Theatre until the 9th of November. Tickets are available here: http://glasgowfilm.org/shows/call-me-by-your-name-15
The GFT also offers a free 15-25 discount card for students, available here: http://glasgowfilm.org/plan-your-visit/memberships/15-25-card
[Calum Cooper – @CalumTheFilmGuy]