Belfast Telegraph

Call Me By Your Name: Intense and intoxicating take on classic holiday romance

 

By Damon Smith

If the precipitous act of falling giddily in love could be distilled, the resulting nectar would surely taste as bittersweet and intoxicating as Call Me By Your Name.

Adapted from Andre Acriman's novel, a classic of modern queer literature, Italian director Luca Guadagnino's sensual, rhapsodic and gorgeously restrained romance is a film to reinvigorate your belief in the power of cinema to perfectly reflect the vagaries of the human condition.

Screenwriter James Ivory, the Oscar-nominated director of A Room With A View, Howards End and The Remains Of The Day, spares us neither intense pleasure nor body-shaking anguish as he details the passionate affair between a precocious 17-year-old boy and an older man against the sun-kissed backdrop of Eighties northern Italy.

Like Brokeback Mountain, Guadagnino's immaculately crafted picture delicately transcends the sexual orientation of the lead couple, speaking eloquently to anyone who has experienced an irrational rush of blood to the head and taken a leap of faith in the name of amour.

Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) spends the summer in an Italian villa, nurturing a half-hearted flirtation with local girl Marzia (Esther Garrel) while his scholarly father (Michael Stuhlbarg) furthers studies in Greco-Roman culture.

Mr Perlman's handsome American intern Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives and Elio begrudgingly surrenders his light and airy bedroom to the visitor.

Initially, Elio is irritated by Oliver's presence and he observes the newcomer's effect on local women with voyeuristic, cool detachment.

Gradually, flickering embers of attraction between Elio and Oliver ignite a raging inferno of sexual desire that scorches every inch of the teenager's body and soul.

He struggles to maintain control of his feelings, while keeping the romance secret.

Call Me By Your Name is sublime in every respect, from Sufjan Steven's elegiac score and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's ravishing cinematography to the tour-de-force performances and Guadagnino's flawless direction.

Five stars

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