"Call Me By Your Name," a film about first love between two young men in the '80s, hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. While talk about the central couple's age gap led to a very public Twitter feud between star Armie Hammer and actor James Woods, the movie's cast, director and producers are adamant there's nothing controversial about the pairing.
Based on André Aciman's book of the same name, the movie revolves around a teenager (Chalamet) who falls for his father's graduate student (Hammer) during a summer in Italy. Speaking with TooFab at the movie's AFI Fest screening in Los Angeles, director Luca Guadagnino stresses it's a love story over anything else.
"The book by André Aciman's is such a beautiful love story already in its form, literature. We tried to pay testament to it and to show how much the love for somebody and acceptance of somebody changes you for the best," Guadagnino told TooFab. "This is a movie about more than two, a family of people, a group of people, who really go for it, go for loving, go for understanding, for search of yourself for the other and change for the better. There is no power relationship."
"Elio and Oliver are two boys, they are two boys and they found one another and they lose one another, as it is in life," he continued. "And also to those who are not yet fully convinced, they should look at the great movie that is 'Dirty Dancing' — she was 17 and he was 24."
Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays father to Chalamet's Elio in the movie, echoed those sentiments.
"I think its about two souls that fall in love with each other and a young man on the brink of adulthood and souls that are similar and find each other and have a passion for each other," he added. "There's nothing corrupting about it."
"They haven't seen the movie if thats what they're talking about," producer Peter Spears said of those criticizing the ages. "This is a movie that is a consensual love story from two young men, a beautiful love story based on a beautiful book. You know, I think it's very easy for the Internet trolls and people like that to sort of jump on it and 99.9% of them have not seen the movie ... seeing the movie is the answer to the question I think."
"We weren't trying to make some salacious, predatory movie," Hammer said. "The age of consent in Italy is 14. So, to get technical, it's not illegal there. Whether I agree with that or not, that's a whole 'nother Oprah, you know? Would it make me uncomfortable if I had a 17-year-old child dating someone in their mid-20s? Probably. But this isn't a normal situation: The younger guy goes after the older guy. The dynamic is not older predator versus younger boy."
"Call Me By Your Name" opens in Los Angeles and New York on November 25.