Luca Guadagnino, the Italian writer-director of I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, winds back the flamboyance to powerful effect in this languorous, sun-filled and wonderfully empathetic tale of first love. Timothée Chalamet is riveting as Elio, a smart, musically gifted 17-year-old hanging out for the summer of 1983 with his parents at their villa in northern Italy. Elio is obliged to move out of his bedroom to make way for his father’s American research assistant, 20-something Oliver (Armie Hammer). Brash and handsome, Oliver immediately sets local hearts aflutter and irritates the hell out of Elio. But the two increasingly find themselves together. A dance of attraction and retreat begins and gradually consumes them both. Elio’s great leap into emotional risk touches everyone in his idyllic world: the depth of understanding granted to him in this gorgeous film feels like a gift to every one of us.
The film’s stock of sensual pleasures extends to its exquisite use of music, including the Psychedelic Furs, Elio’s amusingly bad-tempered renditions of Bach and three perfectly attuned songs by Sufjan Stevens.
“Luca Guadagnino likes to show off his homeland as a place of sensual self-discovery… But he’s never mounted the total swirl of sultry weather, budding libidos and teenage confusion that marks his new drama, Call Me by Your Name, a triumphant, heartbreaking tale of coming out based on André Aciman’s acclaimed 2007 novel… Sweet and salty, his movie burns like a suntan.” — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out NY