‘Call Me By Your Name’ – Film Review

A towering love story set in ’80s Italy

A clip from this intoxicating ’80s romance recently went viral: it finds Armie Hammer’s character losing himself to The Psychedelic Furs’ ‘Love My Way’, but Twitter users edited it to show Armie dancing to everything from Lorde’s ‘Green Light’ to Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It’s a total joy, and the film is filled with perfect moments just like it.

Adapted from André Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age story detailing the first love of one Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet). Elio is a precocious 17-year-old whose parents own a villa in Italy; each summer they welcome a new grad student, and in 1983, that student is a 24-year-old American dreamboat named Oliver (Armie Hammer). Everyone falls in love with him immediately – but not Elio.

Under Hammer and Chalamet’s superb central performances, we see Elio’s attitude towards Oliver develop from dislike to infatuation; before their affair can begin he inevitably falls victim to frustration, overthinking and the reanalysis of his own prejudices. The film goes on to suggest that the pair are soulmates, but the one-sided portrayal of Elio’s experience up to this point makes for an immersive, resonant thrill: it’s ecstasy bound inextricably with torment.

Director Luca Guadagnino unfurls the relationship with a tantalising slowness, plenty of tracking shots and a heady setting that shrugs at its own richness. You can almost smell the aroma of August’s overburdened Italian orchards. Though a strangely touching scene involving a peach will be for many the film’s most memorable moment, its true climax is in a conversation between Elio and his father (Michael Stuhlbarg). It stresses the beauty and worthiness of love even in the face of loss – and all without a hint of schmaltz. A towering achievement.