TIFF 2017: Call Me By Your Name 

When the novel Call Me By Your Name debuted in 2007, critics were head over heels with appreciation. "Exceptionally beautiful," wrote The New York Times. "Superb," wrote The Washington Post. Vanity Fair called the book a "modern classic of gay literature." High praise, indeed; but also very intimidating for anyone who dared bring this story to the screen. In the hands of Oscar-winning producer/screenwriter James Ivory and director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash), Call Me By Your Name is one of the most beautiful, emotionally packed films of 2017.

click to enlarge "Call Me By Your Name" - TIFF
  • TIFF
  • "Call Me By Your Name"
Set in sun-kissed Lombardy, northern Italy, this tale of forbidden love is much heavier on sensuality than sexuality. Armie Hammer (his best acting performance to date) plays Oliver, a doctoral student invited by an American professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) to spend the summer at the villa of the professor. The professor's 17-year-old son Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is initially cool and distant to Oliver, but soon enough, Oliver's energy and intelligence cast a spell on Elio, who is uncertain about his feelings. Those feelings are, at first, tentative and awkward, but when they finally surface, they are treated with respect and care. There have been plenty of books and movies that have explored lost innocence and found identity, but none have danced so lithely as this film.

The title Call Me By Your Name is specific to a scene in the movie but, more importantly, the overriding theme is about identity—not so much our birth name, but more of who we choose to become.

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