A poetic experience, Call Me by Your Name is 2017’s hidden gem. Full of beauty, heart and the human connection this is a must-see film during awards season. Perfetto!
Director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love and A Bigger Splash) paints a powerful portrait of first love and the heartache that comes attached. Call Me by Your Name is a hidden gem full of rare beauty and desirable surprises. Leading in the spotlight are actors Armie Hammer and newcomer Timothée Chalamet, both embody their respected roles of lovers and dreamers. Hammer finally breaks through the screen and transcends the essence of a man looking for love. While, Chalamet brings to the table a fresh take on the coming-of-age teenager who is enriched in culture. The scenery alone in this movie is breathtaking. Guadagnino gracefully throws his audience into the heart of Italy, which helps blend the core of this story into the backdrop.
Based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman, it's the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio (Chalamet), a maturing 17- year-old American-Italian, 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’s father (a wonderful Michael Stuhlbarg) is an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture and his mother Annella (Amira Casar) is a translator. Annella loves to favor both men with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. Stuhlbarg gives the father figure a new creation as he treats every guest with compassion. Elio is both sophisticated and intellectual, but also remains innocent, particularly about matters of the heart. One sunny day, Oliver (Hammer), a 24 charming American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio's father.
At first, Elio is annoyed by Oliver’s brawny wit and laid-backness in using terms like “later.” But then, a spark strikes as Elio’s feelings begin to change towards Oliver as does his. On a bike trip to the town square, they make teasing remarks toward and away from each other. When stopping at a war monument, the camera observes the two at a distance, sadly; Elio and Oliver can't yet verbalize the magnetism in their bodies without making it obvious. The yearning is all there, they just need one of them to make the first move. Call Me by Your Name is a film that draws you in from the first frame until the last. Guadagnino also seamlessly weaves Italian, French and English into the dialogue as the character’s naturally converse with each other. It’s the perfect blend of communication and affection. This is a film that one cannot miss this awards season, as we experience a summer fling blossom onscreen and the heartache that follows.
One scene that stands out in particular, is when Elio’s father confronts him about his relationship with Oliver. The scene is beautifully shot as we see Elio’s father speak to him with tenderness and grace. He is there as a father who loves his son and wants him to embrace that same love in the world. “Then let me say one more thing. It'll clear the air. I may have come close, but I never had what you two have. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business, just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there's sorrow, pain. Don't kill it and with it the joy you've felt.” Stuhlbarg beautifully speaks these words like a true poet. Call Me by Your Name is a rare romance film that hits these kinds of cinematic heights. It receives all five stars from me. For one shining moment, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever. It's raw emotion filled with tender love.
Call Me by Your Name is rated R (Restricted). For sexual content, nudity and some language.