Film ‘did book justice’, says Call Me By Your Name actor Chalamet
Coming-of-age story Call Me By Your Name is critically acclaimed like book it is based on
Watching themselves on screen for the first time in Italian-Algerian director Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name was an overwhelming experience for both US actors Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet.
The romantic drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and, a few weeks later, played at the Berlin International Film Festival, where both critics and audiences gave it a resoundingly positive response.
"I was blown away," said Hammer, 31. "For one of the first times in my life, I saw a movie that I was actually a part of, and I was pleased.
"It does not happen all that often, I will tell you that - not as a reflection of anything other than my perpetual dissatisfaction with my own work, to be clear."
Chalamet, 22, agreed and said: "It was tremendously overwhelming, but at the same time gratifying in that I could have the experience of sitting there, thinking, 'Oh, okay, good! Good... good, and that was good too', then getting to the finish line and being like, 'Okay, in my opinion we did the book justice, and Luca is a genius.'"
Based on Andre Aciman's critically acclaimed 2007 novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name - which opens here tomorrow - is a coming-of-age story and a heartbreaking tale of first love.
Chalamet delivers a breakout performance as Elio, a 17-year-old who is spending a long summer in 1983 at his parents' villa in Italy when Oliver (Hammer), a 25-year-old research student arrives to help his father, an archaeologist and art historian.
Elio is initially resentful when he is asked to surrender his bedroom to the charismatic, handsome Oliver, but slowly falls for him.
What unfolds on screen between the two young men transcends gender and is relatable to everyone, said Hammer.
"It could happen between anybody, and I think those are sort of core elemental human things that we all have gone through," he said.
The love scenes are intimate but never explicit - they are more tender, funny and sensual.
And, said Chalamet, having watched Guadagnino's earlier films - in particular the first two in what the latter has referred to as his trilogy on the nature of desire, I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015) - he knew he was in safe hands.
"Those movies for me were reference points for what Call Me By Your Name would eventually look like.
"In my opinion, it is always the scene in I Am Love with Tilda Swinton in the grass that jumps out, and there is the cool intimate close-ups of the grass and the insects in the grass - that is why Luca is the master of sensuality, as far as I am concerned, in movies today," said Chalamet.
"So that takes the pressure out of your hands, especially for a young guy like me. I have worked with first-time directors before, and he is such a master."
Hammer admitted he felt "nervous" about the costumes - or lack thereof.
He spends much of the film - as does most of the younger cast - wearing tiny shorts, as was the style at the time.
"It just seemed invasive... but also at the same time it was such a pivotal thing for the time - in the 80s people wore short shorts, and it is hot in Italy in the summer, like, 'Why would you wear your shirt? It is too hot!'"
Spending time on location in the lush, beautiful Italian countryside near Crema - Guadagnino's hometown - was a delight, Hammer added.
"It was the best. I mean, it was the best food, the best experience, the best countryside, the best company and the best movie to work on," he said.