First love is the subject matter of Luca Guadagnino's latest film Call Me By Your Name. The picturesque northern Italy local is the ideal lazy summer setting for the story to take place. It's 1983 people have to talk to each other you can't text to see where someone is instead you have to wait until they turn up. Each year Professor Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) hires a doctoral student to join the family at their summer home to do research. This year it's American Oliver (Arnie Hamner) who arrives exhausted from his trip at first annoying the professor's 17-year-old son Elio (Timothee Chalamet) with his arrogance and repeated refrain Later every time he abruptly exits the scene. But Elio is drawn to Oliver, spending as much time as possible with the 24-year-old serving as tour guide mimicking his dress and joining Oliver on ventures into the town square. Oliver seems to have a magnetic effect amongst many of Elio's friends he's a star on the volleyball court and the subject of attention of many of the young ladies summering in the area.
Director Guadagnino brings the contents of Andre Aciman's novel to the screen. Guadagnino uses a light hand with the subject matter seemingly keen to the fact that the story could easily be pushed into the realm of an older man imposing himself on a young confused teen. Instead, there is equal give and take between the pair with the younger Elio more of the aggressor at the outset among his other local dalliances. Oliver is more reserved until things are a definite go then he puts his stamp on the relationship.
Timothee Chalamet is a blur as the hormonally charged teen amongst perfect weather, beauty and willing participants to his sexual awakening. Many sequences of the narrative switch freely between, Italian, English and French. Elio's mom (Amira Casar) even reads a German fable to her son as she holds him close. Armie Hammer is at long last given the chance to expand his acting chops in this film. The first sign of him disappearing into the role occurs when he stops in on a town elder poker game trading barbs in italian with the fellows at an event that Elio did not know existed. Michael Stuhlbarg excels as the welcoming Perlman patriarch. Giving his opening secret grad student test to Oliver, allowing his son to experience all that's out there for him to grasp then delivering perhaps the best piece of advice any parent has given a child on screen.
Call Me By Your Name has all of the elements of a first love. There's discovery, coupling, conflict, and pain as many first loves end in heartbreak. Guadagnino brings this story to the screen at the right time where it can be embraced by a large audience and not marginalized as an LGBT only film. the small town setting serves as a character in the production pinned by superior acting and writing resulting in a film I can highly recommend.
**** Out of 4.
Call Me By Your Name | Luca Guadagnino | Italy/France/Brazil/U.S.A. | 2017 |132 Minutes.
Tags: Northern Italy, First Love, Research, Archeology, Papers, Piano, Books, Swimming, Volleyball, Massage, Sunglasses, Fresh Fruit.