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Call Me by Your Name
If the precipitous act of falling giddily in love could be distilled, the resulting nectar would surely taste as bittersweet and intoxicating as Call Me By Your Name. Adapted from Andre Acriman's novel, a classic of modern queer literature, Italian director Luca Guadagnino's sensual, rhapsodic and gorgeously restrained romance is a film to reinvigorate your belief in the power of cinema to perfectly reflect the vagaries of the human condition. Screenwriter James Ivory, the Oscar-nominated director of A Room With A View, Howards End and The Remains Of The Day, spares us neither intense pleasure nor body-shaking anguish as he details the passionate affair between a precocious 17-year-old boy and an older man against the sun-kissed backdrop of 1980s northern Italy. Like Brokeback Mountain, Guadagnino's immaculately crafted picture delicately transcends the sexual orientation of the lead couple, speaking eloquently to anyone who has experienced an irrational rush of blood to the head and taken a leap of faith in the name of amour. There aren't enough superlatives to lavish on the Oscar-worthy lead performance of 21-year-old Timothee Chalamet, who learned Italian, piano and the guitar in three months to perfectly embody his lovesick teenager. Every facet of the character's delirium and despair is captured in exquisite detail on his face, including an extraordinary final unbroken shot over the closing credits that guarantees no-one leaves the darkened cinema with dry eyes and an unbroken heart. Elio Perlman (Chalamet) spends the summer in an Italian villa, nurturing a half-hearted flirtation with local girl Marzia (Esther Garrel) while his scholarly father (Michael Stuhlbarg) furthers studies in Greco-Roman culture. Mr Perlman's handsome American intern Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives and Elio begrudgingly surrenders his light and airy bedroom to the visitor. Initially, Elio is irritated by Oliver's presence and he observes the newcomer's effect on local women with voyeuristic, cool detachment. Gradually, flickering embers of attraction between Elio and Oliver ignite a raging inferno of sexual desire that scorches every inch of the teenager's body and soul. He struggles to maintain control of his feelings, while keeping the romance secret from his mother Annelle (Amira Casar) and local girl Chiara (Victoire Du Bois), who is smitten with Oliver. Call Me By Your Name is sublime in every respect, from Sufjan Steven's elegiac score and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's ravishing cinematography to the tour-de-force performances and Guadagnino's flawless direction. Hammer seduces us as well as Elio with his subtle portrayal of a man of academia, laid bare by forbidden longing. Stuhlbarg is equally impressive and he relishes one of the film's most understated and powerful scenes that lands imperceptibly with the dizzying force of a sucker punch to the sternum. We match Elio tear for tear, swoon for swoon, sob for gut-wrenching sob, and are forever changed.