A jewel of a film, this. Expect it to loom large in the build-up to awards season. Here’s the Sindo verdict from the weekend.
Call Me By Your Name
WE NOW reach that point in the calendar year when Oscar contenders begin to slowly assemble near the starting line ahead of the race for the Dolby Theatre. This utterly sumptuous coming-of-age romance from Italian director Luca Guadagnino looks to have not only the pedigree but also the topical edge the Academy judges seem to helplessly gravitate towards. Consult your bookmaker post-haste.
Guadagnino rounds off his “Desire trilogy” that began with 2009’s I Am Love and 2015’s A Bigger Splash with another tale of flaring passions and true natures being revealed in an idyllic setting.
Timothée Chalamet is 17-year-old Elio, lounging around his family’s northern Italy villa for the summer vacation of 1983. His academic father (Michael Stuhlbarg) welcomes a research assistant from the US in the form of urbane and sophisticated 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer). Oliver fits right in and quickly becomes, on the face of it, a big-brother figure for Elio. But what the heart wants, the heart gets, and gradually, in the aching beauty of the region’s cobbled village laneways and abundant orchards, the pair fall in love.
Based on Andre Aciman’s 2007 novel but toned down for the cinema market, this is excellent filmmaking that should merit multiple nominations come awards season.
Hammer, Chalamet (and Stuhlbarg in the third act) give turns that quiver with sensitivity and illumination. Guadagnino manages to avoid melodrama by allowing quiet symbolism into the vista – ripening fruit, changing musical tunes etc – and effortlessly maintaining an erudite, cultured tone throughout (which, frankly, the world needs more of right now).
First published in the Sunday Independent