There is a wonderful monologue that Michael Stuhlbarg’s Professor Perlman gives at the end of Luca Guadagnino’s spellbinding Call Me by Your Name that is so powerful it would have been the centerpiece of any other film. However, in Guadagnino’s sensuous romantic tale, the speech serves as the sweet topping to an already delicious Panna Cotta.
Set in Northern Italy during the summer of 1983, Guadagnino’s adaptation of André Aciman novel focuses on the sexual awaking of 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet). Each summer Elio’s father, Professor Perlman, invites a doctoral student to his Lombardy vacation villa to assist with his research; leaving Elio in charge of showing the student the town. When 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome and arrogant fellow American shows up for assignment, Elio thinks nothing of it at first. Despite having a girlfriend, Mariza (Esther Garrel), the allure of Oliver’s presence proves too much for Elio to resist. This sets in motion a courtship that will show the pair what true love really is.
Saturated in the soothing sun-kissed Italian landscape, Guadagnino’s film is a captivating romance that builds its layers slowly. There is a hypnotic rhythm to the film, one in which its simple exterior allows for the emotional weight of Elio and Oliver’s love story to sneak up on the audience. By the time Perlman’s monologue hits, one feels as if they have lived through all the awkward stages that come with falling in love for the first time. A masterclass in storytelling and emotion, Call Me by Your Name is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Thursday, September 7, 7:15 PM, Ryerson Theatre
Friday, September 8, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets can be purchased at the TIFF website.