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February 2018

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Page 17 of 43 16 POST FEBRUARY 2018 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR uca Guadagnino, the award-win- ning Italian director, screenwriter, producer and artist, first arrived on the international scene in 2010 with his critically-acclaimed film, I Am Love, star- ring frequent collaborator Tilda Swinton, which garnered Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. He fol- lowed that up with another art house hit, 2015's A Bigger Splash starring Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts. Now he's back with a new, much buzzed-about film, Call Me by Your Name, a sensual and transcendent tale of first love, based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman. Set in the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, it tells the story of Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old American-Italian, who spends his days in his family's 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), in a setting that's both sophisticated and charmingly shabby-chic. While Elio's musical and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him, particularly about matters of the heart. All that begins to change when one day Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar working on his doctor- ate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio's father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, Guadagnino talks about making the film and his love of post. What was the appeal of making this? "I really loved the book and I wanted to make an idyll, a movie about love, and an unbiased and un-cynical and warm and sweet and heartfelt film about the capacity we have for loving someone. And how the bonds you make in your life make you a better person, and how you change when you love someone openly and positively. I wanted it to feel like warm sunshine flooding the room." I heard that you consider Call Me by Your Name to be the last part of a trilogy of films that began with I Am Love, and then continued with A Bigger Splash? "Yes, but it actually occurred to me that they formed this trilogy after I'd made this one. I realized that what links these three films is the concept of desire and the rev- elation of desire — either a burst of desire for someone else or what happens when you discover you are the object of some- body else's desire. But while in the first two films that desire is more of a destruc- tive force, this one is about desire at its most benign, open aspect. So Elio realizes there is this force, this desire that he really doesn't know how to handle but he wants to follow it and see where it leads." Obviously the relationship between Elio and Oliver makes a strong case for a gay relationship, but it seems to me that the film is actually more about first love than a gay love. "I completely agree with you. It's really about first love — no matter who the person is, or what their sex. It could have been about Elio and his girlfriend Marzia, but for whatever reason the chemistry between them didn't catch fire, and then Elio sees Oliver, and the sparks begin to fly. (Laughs) Love and desire are myste- rious things." You assembled a great cast. What did Timothée Chalamet bring to his role? "It was very important to me that he could really play piano and guitar, as he's this musical virtuoso in the film, and he could already play very well. And he's a very dedicated, hard-working actor, who just goes for it. He has a way of approaching a character and articulating it that's never banal. He's completely invested in his role and the film, and he came over to Italy a month or two before the shoot, and he learned Italian and also took piano and guitar lessons every day, until he'd com- pletely mastered the instruments. He just became Elio, and you see that on screen." And Armie? "I think Armie is such a complex crea- ture and a wonderful person. He has this beautiful presence, and his eyes commu- nicate so much — a deep sense of internal turmoil. And for a director, that's a deep well you can draw on so much, as the camera loves him so much and detects so much in his eyes. He's also a very gener- ous actor, and not self-guarded like some. He's always very open." You worked from a script written by the great James Ivory. How involved was he in the production? LUCA GUADAGNINO — CALL ME BY YOUR NAME BY IAIN BLAIR L TAKING ON A SENSUAL AND TRANSCENDENT TALE OF FIRST LOVE DP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom shot the movie on film. Guadagnino (below) changed the film's setting from the Italian Riviera to Crema.

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