First love, gay love, take center stage in ‘Call Me By Your Name’


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Call Me By Your Name” became a landmark for gay romantic fiction when it was first published in 2007, but the makers of a new movie version say it will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good love story.

Starring Timothee Chalamet as a 17 year old in 1980s Italy, and Armie Hammer as a visiting American scholar, “Call Me By Your Name” is the sensual story of first love played out during an idyllic and languid summer.

Based on the 2007 novel by American writer Andre Aciman, the movie arrives in U.S. theaters on Friday, 11 years after cowboy romance “Brokeback Mountain” won three Oscars and became a cultural phenomenon.

Like “Brokeback Mountain,” “Call Me By Your Name” portrays its protagonists on their own terms, without judgment or stereotypes. It is also attracting Hollywood awards buzz, and this week it received six nominations for the Independent Spirit awards, including best male lead actor, supporting male lead and best feature.

“You will be able to watch this and remember the first time you were infatuated with someone, or you had given your heart to somebody, or you had your heart broken. These are core, base, elemental human emotions that anybody can identify with,” Hammer said.

“So put any prejudices or preconceived notions aside and just go into it with an open mind,” he said.

Italian director Luca Guadagnino said it took 10 years to make the movie, partly because of financing and partly because of its slow-burn, low drama story.

“It is not an action film, there is not a villain. It is about these people. They love one another and want to become better people. Maybe that was a bit odd for the market,” he said.

Chalamet, 21, and Hammer had a crucial three weeks in Italy ahead of filming to build their relationship, much of which is played out on screen in looks and words unsaid.

“This movie lives and dies in the honesty and truth of the chemistry and romance that happens between these two people… That’s a challenging thing as an actor to be that vulnerable, and honest and open and exposed emotionally, not only to another person but to a camera,” Hammer said.

Guadagnino said making the low-budget movie was “a call of duty.”

“There is a song by Prefab Sprout titled ‘All the World Loves Lovers’ and all the world loves people in love. That’s what I want the audience to take away.”

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bernadette Baum)