Joining the likes of recent prestige triumphs Carol and Moonlight is Call Me By Your Name, from Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love). Adapted from the novel by André Aciman, the film tells the story of an academic's son in 80s
Call Me By Your Name is achingly good, a sweet, heartbreaking film that has both a rewarding complexity and a lyrical simplicity. In short it is a great piece of cinema. It is another ode to Guadagnino's home country, aided by Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, with the camera lingering on the sun kissed beauty of the Italian countryside that makes up the film's setting. The film powerful explores themes of faith, as well as sexuality and coming of age, and it will surely reward a repeat viewing. Certainly I have had a song from the soundtrack, The Psychedelic Furs' 'Love My Way' stuck in my head, as my thoughts return to the film over and over again.
The film is particularly well cast. The ever wonderful Michael Stuhlbarg gives a quietly brilliant performance as the academic and his subtle early work is rewarded with a particularly well written speech in the film's finale. Amira Casar has less to do then Stuhlbarg in the part of his wife but is a very good addition, comfortably hiding the limitations of her role. There is a great teen comedy waiting out there with Stuhlbarg and Casar in the role of the parents. And yet this film belongs to the central couple. Armie Hammer, who has been making exceptional good film choices of late, gives his best performance to date. The sight of him dancing is one of the cinematic highlights of the year. He shares a powerful, intimate chemistry with Timothée Chalamet. Chalamet is shatteringly good here, a naturally gifted actor who offers clarity and insight beyond his years.
The impact of Call Me By Your Name builds throughout so that the final twenty minutes are particularly effective, the film achieving a resonance that haunts long after the finale. It comfortably shares a creative space with previous LGBTQ prestige films and, to my mind, surpasses them. It finds a universal significance that few romances can quite achieve, its exploration of the devastating power of first love capturing a moment we have all experienced. The film is a masterpiece, an emotionally intense, achingly powerful addition to queer cinema, and one of the year's finest. Go see.