Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Call Me by Your Name

Based on the novel by Andre Aicman, Call Me by Your Name is the story of a teenage boy living in Northern Italy during the early 1980s as he falls for his father’s college graduate assistant leading to a love affair. Directed by Luca Guadagnino and screenplay by James Ivory, the film is the third part of a thematic trilogy that play into love and desire that began with 2009’s I Am Love and followed by 2015’s A Bigger Splash. Starring Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victorie Du Bois, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Call Me by Your Name is a rapturous and mesmerizing film from Luca Guadagnino.

It’s 1983 in Northern Italy as the film revolves around a 17-year old who meets his father’s college graduate assistant as they become attracted towards one another and would eventually lead to a secret romance. It’s a film with a simple story though this air of attraction and intrigue is a slow build as it play into not just confusion but also longing. James Ivory’s screenplay doesn’t just play into the idea of desire and discovery of sexual identity but also acts as a coming-of-age story from the perspective of its protagonist Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet). Elio is a bibliophile who also a music prodigy that likes to transcribe music as he’s living with his parents (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and often spends time with kids his age including a French girl in Marzia (Esther Garrel). When the graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to assist Mr. Perlman on archeological studies as well as working on a paper of his own for grad school.

At first, Elio isn’t impressed with Oliver who is quite energetic and outgoing in contrast to the more introverted Elio but there is this air of attraction that starts to loom throughout the film. Even as Oliver would show signs that he’s gay but Elio isn’t sure as he does have feelings for Marzia while Oliver would have a relationship with another young Frenchwoman in Chiara (Victoire Du Bois). There is also these moments where Oliver would be away as it adds to this growing sexual tension from Elio until one day where they go to a nearby town as they start to realize their attraction towards one another. Yet, they would have to keep it a secret though some who are close to them have an idea that something is going on as Ivory’s script doesn’t have them say anything while he does put in some incredible dialogue between the characters including a touching monologue from Mr. Perlman late in the film.

Luca Guadagnino’s direction is intoxicating for capturing life in Northern Italy during a beautiful summer at a time when there was a sense of change emerging politically and socially at that time. Shot on location at Crema as well as the province of Cremona and nearby villages such as Pandino and Moscazzano, the film does play into a world that is unique and quaint in its setting where everyone spends time going out to the countryside or to the nearby town while they would watch whatever was on Italian TV at the time when they’re home. While much of Guadagnino’s direction emphasizes on intimate compositions whether it’s in a wide shot with a certain location in the background or medium shots and close-ups to play into the growing attraction between Elio and Oliver. Notably in a few sequences that play into a sense of longing such as the scene of Oliver dancing with Elio later joining in with Chiara and Marzia to an upbeat pop song. The attraction also would come to ahead in scenes where they seem to dislike each other but it adds to the sexual tension that is evident.

Guadagnino would also let scenes play out longer than a few minutes just to play into the attraction between Elio and Oliver. Even in the sense of longing from Elio towards Oliver while he tries to fulfill his own sexual desires through Marzia. Still, Guadagnino is aware that homosexuality was still in the taboo stages during that time as well as the fact that there’s a seven-year gap between Elio and Oliver. The third act does play into Elio and Oliver given the chance to be with each other but the latter has to return home to America which adds an air of despair in the aftermath for Elio who would turn to his father whose monologue would play into everything Elio experienced. Overall, Guadagnino crafts a touching and vibrant film about a 17-year old’s sexual awakening and love for his father’s college graduate assistant.

Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom does brilliant work with the film’s naturalistic and gorgeous cinematography as it play into the sunny look of the daytime exteriors at the Northern Italian countryside and small towns as well as the look of the scenes set at night including a nearby pond where Elio and Marzia would skinny-dip. Editor Walter Fasino does amazing work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts, dissolves, and other stylish cuts play into the drama as well as the sense of longing without the need to make any kind of quick cuts. Production designer Samuel Deshors, with art director Roberta Federico plus set decorators Muriel Chinal, Sandro Piccarozzi, and Violante Visconti di Modrone, does fantastic work with the look of the Perlman house in its interiors and exteriors as well as the little details at the town with political posters and the magazines of the times.

Costume designer Giulia Piersanti does nice work with the costumes as it does play into the look of the 1980s without being too stylish as well as maintain something that is casual. Visual effects supervisor Luca Saviotti does terrific work with the visual effects as it play into a couple of sequences that add to the sense of longing and desire from Elio’s perspective. Sound editor Riccardo Cameracanna does superb work with the sound as it play into the natural setting of the locations and at the Perlman’s house without the need to embellish it for dramatic effect. Music supervisor Robin Urdang does incredible work with the film’s soundtrack as it include a few original songs and score pieces from Sufjan Stevens that include some piano-based cuts while the rest of the soundtrack is a mixture of classical music and contemporary pop music of the times ranging from artists and acts like Joe Esposito, Giorgio Moroder, the Psychedelic Furs, F.R. David, Bandolero, Marco Armani, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Loredana Berte, Johann Sebastian Bach, Andre Laplante, Maurice Ravel, and Erik Satie.

The casting by Stella Savino is wonderful as it include some notable small roles from novelist Andre Aicman and Peter Spears as a gay couple who are friends of the Perlmans, Elena Bucci and Marco Sgrosso as a couple of art historians who argue with each during a lunch at the Perlmans’ home, Antonio Rimoldi as the Perlman’s repairman/fisherman Anchise, and Vanda Capriolo as the family maid Mafalda who runs the house and watches over a lot of what goes on. Victoire du Bois is terrific as Chiara as a friend of Elio and Marzia who falls for Oliver as she is eager to be his girlfriend. Esther Garrel is fantastic as Marzia as Elio’s girlfriend who is fascinated by Oliver while being suspicious that something is up with him and Elio with concern for the latter. Amira Casar is excellent as Elio’s mother Annella as a woman who is also watching from afar in the development of Elio’s friendship with Oliver while also being concerned for her son later on in the film.

Michael Stuhlbarg is brilliant as Elio’s father Sammy as an archeology professor that is eager to have Oliver help him in his discoveries around Italy as well as be aware of Oliver’s interest in Elio as he would have this great monologue near the end of the film that is one of Stuhlbarg’s finest moments in his career. Armie Hammer is amazing as Oliver as an American graduate student who is full of life as he is eager to help Elio’s father while working on his own grad paper as he is also attracted to Elio while making sure their relationship is secret. Finally, there’s Timothee Chalamet in an incredible breakthrough performance as Elio Perlman as a 17-year old music prodigy/bibliophile who is intrigued by this new visitor at his family home as he struggles to cope with his feelings where he eventually falls for him as he deals with the ideas of love and sense of longing as it’s an anguished and charismatic performance from Chalamet.

Call Me by Your Name is a tremendous film from Luca Guadagnino that features great performances from Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Along with the rest of the ensemble, gorgeous visuals, fun music soundtrack, and themes of love and longing. It’s a film that explore the idea of love between two men and what they try to do to keep it secret at a time when homosexuality wasn’t the norm as well as a young man coming to grips with his identity. In the end, Call Me by Your Name is a spectacular film from Luca Guadagnino.

Luca Guadagnino Films: (The Protagonists) - (Tilda Swinton: The Love Factory) - (Mundo civilzado) - (Cuoco contadino) - (Melissa P.) - (The Love Factory No. 3 Pippo Delbono - Bisogna morire) - I Am Love - (Bertolucci on Bertolucci) – A Bigger Splash - Suspiria (2018 film) - The Staggering Girl - (Fiori, Fiori, Fiori) – (Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams) – (We Are Who We Are (2020 TV series)) – Bones & All – (Challengers (2023 film))

© thevoid99 2018

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