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|Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:36:18 +0000|
The time is 1983, summer. The setting is Italy, warm, open, sexy Italy, with the sous-setting being the groves of academe. A family of academics welcomes a kind of intern to their summer home in northern Italy. Oliver is solidly American to the family's worldly, multi-lingual context.
The host family introduces Oliver to the community, the young, dancing women, the orchard with its low-hanging fruit, the classical sculptures and stories -- and to their son, Elio, a 17-year-old musician, his hormones moaning. He and Oliver establish distance, each more diffident than the other, pretending not to care. That fits adolescent Elio as well as the adult male Oliver, unsure behind his confidence.
Oliver, being thoroughly American, touches those around him, but Elio does not know how to read those touches. He knows only that he wants more. The two men explore each other as if they were blindly but expertly running their hands down the lines of a Praxiteles sculpture, recently retrieved from the sea.
As the distance between them elides, one male says to the other, "Call me by your name," and they bond and blend. Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet take the leads convincingly, with Michael Stuhlbarg performing well as the father, especially in the end.
The film is based on the novel of that title by André Aciman, who wrote the polyglot script with the redoubtable James Ivory. Director Luca Guadagnino, famous for "I Am Love," directs his cameras to the juicy, yet oddly sere Italian landscape as well as to the sexual couplings of men and women, with only the tiniest glimpse of the male engine of sex, making significant scenes marginally unreal. "Call Me by Your Name" is an exotic, erotic, energetic, and exciting exploration.