Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Call Me by Your Name *****

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 29th October, 2017

Call Me By Your NameIs it possible for a film to be perfect? Maybe that is an absurd question, as no man-made creation can ever be utterly perfect, but some movies do reach true greatness. That is certainly the case with Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name, which is the most astounding film I have seen for years. The screenplay (by James Ivory, Walter Fasano and the director) is based on an American novel of the same title by André Aciman and is set in early 1980s Italy, largely in and around the beautiful old house and garden of a liberal and cosmopolitan university professor and his family. Each summer a graduate student comes to stay to help the host with his work, but this particular summer the incomer is a handsome, young American Jew, Oliver, (convincingly played by Armie Hammer), who is self-assured and self-reliant to the point of apparent arrogance. Initially put off by this newcomer, the skinny and shy 17-year-old son of the house, Elio (brilliantly acted by Timothée Chalomet), gradually falls under Oliver’s spell and soon the youth’s already nascent sexual spring awakening is channeled in the older man’s direction. Seemingly used to being the centre of amorous attention, and flirtatious when in the mood, Oliver gently leads him on, though all concerned know that the relationship cannot endure. The story unfolds in masterful fashion against the backdrop of glorious countryside and in an ambiance suffused the discreet charm of the intellectual haute bourgeoisie. Elio is a talented amateur pianist, so music naturally plays a very important role in the film, but even more atmospheric and at times breathtaking is the cinematography, by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Some shots are like perfectly composed still photographs, making imaginative use of angle as well as light. Probably some people will consider parts of the film of the too graphic, but Guadagnino wanted to express both desire and joie de vivre in a positive light, as well as the bonds of loving family relationships, especially between father and son, as exquisitely represented by Elio and the professor. All in all, the film is a masterpiece.

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