With his new period romance, director Luca Guadagnino and his cast let their inhibitions go
TALKING ABOUT HIS filmmaking process brings out Luca Guadagnino’s inner Swiss Toni. Like The Fast Show’s resident lothario, a man who likened everything to making love to a beautiful woman, the Call Me
By Your Name director turns sensuous when discussing his critically acclaimed romance. “My casting director recently said to me, ‘Every movie you make, it’s a way of making love to your partners in the film, whether they are actors or crew members,’” he explains. Yes, even the sweaty key grip was inducted into the Italian director’s sexy filmmaking world.
This metaphorical on-set orgy was in aid of an indie drama critics have been showering with praise since its Sundance debut in January. Suffused with a heat-haze eroticism and nostalgic hues, and featuring some showstopping (and potentially non-consensual) sex with a peach, it follows Armie Hammer’s academic during a hot, lustful ’70s Italian summer. Timothée Chalamet (Young Coop in Interstellar) is the Italian-american teen, Elio Perlman, he falls for.
For Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name follows I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, two equally lauded projects. He deems those two “very harsh and really strong films”, confessing it was the idea of crafting a gentler, more idyllic tale that drew him to this adaptation of André Aciman’s novel. “I did it for the pleasure of it,” he says. “I said to everyone that we had to make it lightly. I wanted everyone to leave their inhibitions at the door — and I’m not talking about nudity, I’m talking about being emotionally naked. I wanted everyone to be open and loose.”
That emotional nakedness allowed Guadagnino to get to the parts others struggle to reach. “The camera never fails to see the truth,” he notes, “for good or for bad.” His ambition, he expands, was to make Call Me
By Your Name “in a simple, straightforward, very lighthearted and joyous way”, avoiding “all of the complications that come with making a movie”.
This unique filmmaking philosophy has paid dividends, especially for Hammer, whose revelatory central turn has drawn early Oscar buzz. Next to undergo Guadagnino’s boot camp? The cast of Suspiria, his big-budget remake of Dario Argento’s classic slasher. Then again, this creatively restless director may have an entirely new approach in mind for his first horror. “My goal when I was seven, shooting on Super-8, was to make horror movies,” he remembers. “So probably Suspiria will be my real debut.” It’ll be his second debut, maybe, but he definitely won’t be losing his filmmaking virginity.
Are Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and academic Oliver (Armie Hammer) in for a bumpy ride? Below: Love’s young dreamer.