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Review: Call Me By Your Name is infused by the preciousness of first love

PUBLISHED: 11:10 26 October 2017 | UPDATED: 11:10 26 October 2017

Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet in Call me By Your Name. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet in Call me By Your Name. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Adapted from Andre Acriman’s novel by James Ivory, Luca Guadagnino’s sun-drenched and gorgeously restrained tale of a summer romance between two boys in 1980s Italy is poignant and truthful but also so oppressively tasteful.

Timothee Chalamet as Elio in Call me By Your Name. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics Timothee Chalamet as Elio in Call me By Your Name. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Call Me By Your Name (15)

***

This tale of fleeting affection among the cultural elite is a timely affirmation of the value of aesthetics, culture and learning. It’s also, perhaps, an admission that Western civilisation wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and had dragged on long enough.

It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17- year-old American-Italian boy, spends his days in his family’s 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel).

Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in Call me By Your Name. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in Call me By Your Name. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg, sporting a greying beard and meek expression that makes him look like Robin Williams playing Roy Keane), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), a translator, who favour him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights.

One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual intern tasked with helping Elio’s father.

Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of the summer.

Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s film is filled with sun, and swimming and walking around in tennis shorts and lolling around reading learned books on philosophy in the sun after a refreshing swim. What a life, all infused by the preciousness of first love.

Based on a script by James Ivory, adapted from Andre Acriman’s novel, it is poignant and truthful but so oppressively tasteful you might be excused for yearning for some bread and circuses.

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