VIFF 2017: Desire arises between young men in Call Me By Your Name's picturesque Italian summer


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      A languid, sun-drenched 1983 summer in picturesque northern Italy becomes a pivotal one for (Timothée Chalamet) when a Jewish-American doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to be the new assistant to Elio's archaeology professor father. Although Elio is pursuing a local French girl, Oliver's presence arouses desire in Elio. While the essential elements are all there in the film's sensual textures, there's a strange sloppiness around its edges: choppy editing, ill-defined character behaviour, and a lopsided focus on Elio's attraction to Oliver, with little indication of the covert mutual flirtation characteristic of closeted gay men. Still, there is much to relish in this passionate, visually rich romance, by I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino, that particularly excels in its refreshing take on the permissiveness that's possible through liberalism guided by knowledge and experience.