Director: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois
Words – Christian Abbott
Set during the Summer of 1983, “somewhere in Northern Italy”, the summer heat radiates through the frame, you can’t help but want to be there as you watch the breath-taking cinematography and, of course, blossoming romance.
We follow Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a seventeen year old living at home with his parents as they work. Each summer they host a student guest over the season (Armie Hammer) and soon the two spark a friendship which develops into much more.
This is the third entry into director Luca Guadagnino’s “trilogy of desire” – also including I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. Both excellent explorations of the theme in their own right, though Guadagnino has reached a new level with this. This adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name, Guadagnino has managed to maintain and build upon the intimate details and nuances of the book. He has captured the beauty and raw emotions and translated them perfectly onto the screen with the help of co-writers James Ivory and Walter Fasano.
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s cinematography has helped achieve this brilliantly; every shot is sumptuous and elegant. The film is bursting with colour and life, all the food looks mouth-watering, the water enticing and the villa idyllic. Every frame of the film just makes you want to dive in.
Of course though, the true beauty of the film comes from the two lead performances. There is so much natural chemistry between the two, so much passion, joy and feeling. Timothée Chalamet in particular is phenomenal. This young talent has exploded onto the scene this year with this and Lady Bird. The range of emotions displayed are simply incredible, it is hard to not feel what he is feeling and invest yourself deeply into the character. Armie Hammer is also spectacular, he has consistently delivered great performances over the years but this is his finest work yet. His charisma and confidence are palpable. You immediately feel as though you know these characters and want them to succeed.
On top of all this is the instantly classic soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens. It perfectly matches the tone of the film, its calming quality and smoothing imagery. It is raw and elegant. The editing of the music is sharp and sudden, as though skipping to the next track on a playlist – adding to the naturalistic feeling of the film. All the sound of the film is peaceful and natural, the sounds of birds, grass and the wind interwoven with the music creates this timeless quality.
The Oscar nominations are tighter than they have been in years, all the films are deserving in their own ways. But for me, there can only be one winner.