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European films

Call Me by Your Name film review: heartbreaking Oscar-nominated gay romance set in the gorgeous Italian countryside

Featuring some of the best acting of the year from its young star Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name is a slice-of-life look at the complications of forbidden love with a truly heartbreaking final 10 minutes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 February, 2018, 2:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 February, 2018, 2:34pm

4/5 stars

It is summer 1983 in northern Italy and 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) has once again been kicked out of his own room. His archaeology professor father hosts a foreign scholar every year, which means his room has been temporarily turned into guest lodging.

Elio hates this practice, and in years past has held grudges against the visitors. But the incoming scholar this time is Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome doctoral student with a statuesque body. Although concluding early that they have nothing in common, Elio finds himself increasingly fascinated by the family guest. Soon, he finds out that the fascination is reciprocated.

Film review: A Bigger Splash – Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes in sexually decadent Mediterranean drama

And so begins this beautiful and poetic same-sex love story. Based on the well-received novel of the same name, Call Me by Your Name sees Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash) do his home country proud with an absolutely gorgeous depiction of the northern Italian countryside, where the skies are deep blue and cloud free, and streets are lined with trees and smiles.

Chalamet gives a stunner of a performance as a teen in that awkward stage where he is too old to be a child but not quite fully grown up. His closeted homosexuality – or perhaps bisexuality, which is up for debate – is portrayed with a myriad of layers and fine nuances. Hammer, meanwhile, is solid as the partner who is initially reluctant due to the seven-year age difference but who eventually gives in to his desires.

Shot on 35mm film and leisurely paced, Call Me by Your Name is one of those arty films that is more a slice-of-life look at the complications of forbidden love than a fully plotted drama. Rest assured, the final 10 minutes of it is heartbreaking and features some of the best acting of the year by Chalamet, a worthy Oscar best actor nominee.

Call Me by Your Name opens on March 1

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