Luca Guadagnino is the Italian-born filmmaker behind I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015). His latest film is the acclaimed Call Me By Your Name, adapted from the novel by André Aciman. Set in 1983, in rural Italy, it’s a sensitive and sensuous coming-of age romance between Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24 year-old doctoral student, and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) the 17 year-old son of the Greco-Roman culture professor he is spending the summer with.
ASFF: After your earlier films I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, you’ve called Call Me By Your Name the third in a loose trilogy of desire. Why?
LG: I happened to have made three movies about characters who choose to follow their own desires, and the outcome of desire for each of these movies is very different, and they all happen to be in the summer. One is a tragedy, the other is a farce and the third one is an idyll. And I wanted to try to sound the note of an idyll in this case; I wanted to be in a benign, positive, conflicted state of mind. Something that has to do with the innocence of listening to yourself.
ASFF: The film is very sensual. Was this in the initial script?
LG: I think it’s my way of being, really, as a director. I let things to happen and I’m welcoming the unexpected. I think that’s something that is what cinema is; cinema is about filming the invisible that happens. And it’s your task as a director, to be able to find a way to let this invisibility to become the protagonist of the scene. And if you ask me, did I strategise all this? No. I try to be intuitive and I try to let things happen and I try to live in the screen.
ASFF: How did you aesthetically envisage the movie?
LG: We decided to make the movie in a very light way, in a very few days. We shot for thirty days, in a very contained environment with few people in the crew and one camera, not two, with one lens. Usually when you shoot a movie you use more or less twenty lenses; in this case we only used one. The lens that closer resembled the human eye, which is a 35mm lens.
ASFF: It’s set in the 1980s. How did you work on the look of the film?
LG: We made a lot of extensive, skilful research, and we had thousands of images of the period in the place. Sometimes you had a bit of a hairdo, sometimes you had a bit of a jacket…first of all, its summer, so there is less dress. And honestly, I’m more interested in something that’s realistic rather than an idea of something.
ASFF: How much are you like Elio or Oliver in the story?
LG: Zero! I’m not someone who got into action. I’m a voyeur. I stay in the corner and would stare at those beautiful bodies. I think I am more like Annella or the maid [in the film]. I like the cook, and I like to observe.
Call Me By Your Name opens on 27 October. For more details, visit: www,sonyclassics.com
1. Still from Call Me By Your Name.