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The Director To Know: Mr Luca Guadagnino

October 2017Words by Mr Ashley Clarke

Messrs Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name. Photograph by Sony Pictures

Mr Luca Guadagnino is currently spending more time in airports than he would like. “I feel like Tom Hanks in The Terminal right now,” he sighs, massaging his forehead and reclining on a sofa in a private room at London’s Claridge’s hotel. The Italian director is here to promote his new film Call Me By Your Name, a carnal tale of ripening adolescent desire and self-discovery set against the delicious backdrop of Crema in Lombardy, the place Mr Guadagnino calls home when he’s not flying around the globe to promote it.

Based on the acclaimed coming-of-age novel of the same name by the American writer Mr André Aciman, the film focuses on Elio (Mr Timothée Chalamet), a stripling, precocious 17-year-old who spends the summer transposing Bach on the piano, lounging in the garden of his family’s 17th century holiday villa in Northern Italy, and pursuing the affections of Marzia (Ms Esther Garrel), the girl next door. Elio’s world is thrown into disarray when Oliver (Mr Armie Hammer), a handsome American PhD student arrives at his family home. There to assist Elio’s professor father (Mr Michael Stuhlbarg) in his archaeology research for the summer, Oliver stirs something in Elio (and Elio in Oliver), and a sun-soaked few weeks of sexual tension ensues.

“The whole movie is a dance of working through shyness,” says Mr Guadagnino, who on one level sees Call Me By Your Name as a completion of a trilogy on desire, beginning with his 2009 film I Am Love and continuing with 2015’s A Bigger Splash. While the films stand on their own as individual works, Mr Guadagnino appreciates the connections they have to one another – “not something conscious, just something I thought about after I made the movies.” I Am Love, he says is about “desire as a destructive, liberating force” while A Bigger Splash is about “nostalgic, oppressive” desire. “Call Me By Your Name,” he continues, “is about desire as a force of self-discovery”.