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Call Me By Your Name

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Call Me By Your Name is a sweet and delicate romance that makes a virtue of understatement. The film possesses the ingredients for an emotionally overwrought melodrama: the summer of 1983; an abundance of bright fashion and music; a picturesque setting in Northern Italy, complete with orchards laden with fruit (itself laden with symbolism); a teenage protagonist undergoing a sexual awakening; an array of pretty young people with a variety of tongues; constant sunlight that turns water into shimmering light; a handsome newcomer that everyone adores. Yet despite the potential for histrionics and yanking at heartstrings, director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory’s adaptation of Andre Aciman’s novel is a masterclass in restraint and implication. Teenage Elio (Timothée Chalamet) falls for visiting student Oliver (Armie Hammer) as his true sexuality emerges, but Elio also pursues girls seemingly by rote. Oliver’s response to Elio’s affection is by turns dismissive and receptive, the audience’s confusion mirrored by Elio’s uncertainty. Yet even in its most affecting moments, Guadagnino opts for long takes and delicate composition rather than melodrama. The film is often very funny and frequently touching in its portrayal of the discomfort of young love while also being explicit in its sexual content without resorting to lurid leering – indeed the love scenes are often amusing and affecting in their awkwardness. Despite this, Call Me By Your Name is less a comedy and more a bittersweet drama of a beautiful, encapsulated time, during which a love bloomed that was perfect because it existed only in a pristine yet contained moment.

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