Call Me by Your Name ★★★★½

The whole concept of “ripeness” permeates this gorgeous adaptation of André Aciman’s novel by screenwriter James Ivory and director Luca Guadagnino. Set in the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy, it follows the relationship between 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet), the son of a classics scholar (Michael Stuhlbarg), and Oliver (Armie Hammer), the 20-something doctoral student working for the summer as a research assistant to Elio’s father. In many ways there’s a familiar coming-of-age structure to the story, as Elio eyes Oliver from afar, not quite sure yet about his own feelings. But the narrative complicates matters not just because it’s a gay romance, but by layering the characters’ outsider sensibility by having them be Jews in Italy, and by giving Elio’s family openly gay friends and a tolerant approach to their son’s explorations (including a heartbreaking monologue by Stuhlbarg). Guadagnino emphasizes the fruit trees and buzzing insects of his setting, creating an entire fertile world into which Elio—stunningly portrayed by Chalamet—begins to emerge as an adult. It’s a world of first love where everything, including emotion, is exploding into bloom.

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