THE STORY – It’s the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
THE CAST – Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel & Victoire Du Bois
THE TEAM – Luca Guadagnino (Director) & James Ivory (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 130 Minutes
By Matt N.
“Moonlight” was a film about identity. “Call Me By Your Name” is a film about love. That alone right there should be enough for people to understand that these are two very different type of films which just so happen to feature gay men and are being released around awards season. “Call Me By Your Name” might just be the most romantic film I see in 2017. It was genuine, honest and completely earnest in how it depicts desire, infatuation, love, and longing. With sumptuous cinematography, beautiful performances, and quality writing, “Call Me By Your Name” is a magnificent film that deserves more than to be compared to last year’s Best Picture winner.
Taking place somewhere in Northern Italy during the summer of 1983, “Call Me By Your Name” follows seventeen-year-old Elio (Timothee Chalamet), the son of Jewish-Italian parents (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar). He is a normal kid who plays the piano, guitar, and hangs out with girls until one day an academic man named Oliver (Armie Hammer) comes to visit his parent’s villa for the summer as an assistant to his scholarly father. Drawn to him from the very start, Elio longs to be with Oliver and his desires are answered when he discovers that Oliver is drawn to him as well. Their relationship lasts the summer as the two bond over their Jewish heritage, the Italian landscape, and Elio’s father’s work.
The first thing that is apparent about “Call Me By Your Name” is the degree to how sensual the film feels. Shot in Italy, in the dead heat of summer, where everyone is sweaty and with half their clothes off, there is a sensuality which radiates off of the screen and lures you into the film’s seductive quality. If that were not enough, we are also treated to a gifted ensemble of performers who communicate their performances with sincerity. Much has been made of Michael Stuhlbarg and his heartbreaking final monologue towards the end of the film and while it is truly great both on the page and on the screen, he is a background character for most of the movie. This film belongs to Armie Hammer and especially Timothee Chalamet. Their performances as directed by Luca Guadagnino are patient, fully embodied and completely human. Their quiet glances, their expressions of attraction, simply radiate off the screen in such a way that when the two finally do get together, you want nothing more than for them to be together for the whole film. Guadagnino plays around with this idea in a sequence when Elio is waiting all day to see Oliver again as he constantly refers to his watch. He is longing to be together again with the person who makes him feel alive and loved, as are we. That Luca Guadagnino and the actors are able to communicate this level of desire to us so that we are rooting for them to be together is quite a feat of filmmaking.
Armie Hammer may be the bigger name and we may never have seen him this vulnerable, but the film ultimately belongs to Timothee Chalamet who gives a remarkable performance of teenage complexity, vulnerability, and passion. The kid is simply a revelation and if you don’t believe me, stick through the credits and tell me that this 21-year-old kid is not delivering one of the best performances you have seen this year. He is also apparently quite musically gifted, so if his performance doesn’t work enough here for you 1. There’s always that and 2. God help you. The chemistry which he has with Hammer is so natural and has this aura about it that screams “This just feels right.” When screenwriter James Ivory, a legend within the filmmaking community who has never won an Academy Award (This may change that), inevitably decides to split the two up, Chalamet makes us feel every emotion.
Observant, intelligent, literary, surprisingly funny and so beautiful it makes you want to hug it, “Call Me By Your Name” is a true introspective on love, longing, and heartbreak. The performances by the cast are all fantastic with the young Timothee Chalamet truly impressing as he lifts the movie up on his back. Luca Guadagnino takes James Ivory’s screenplay and perfectly translates it to the screen to give us a fully realized story that takes place over a small period of time, contains many small moments but feels like it is the biggest event of this young boy’s life. There isn’t much negativity to be found here. Maybe slow, contemplative, belletristic dramas aren’t necessarily your style but by the end, you’ll be calling for “Call Me By Your Name” to not be over.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Genuine, honest and natural performances from the cast which really make you feel. Luca Guadagnino makes us feel the love through his images and patient storytelling.
THE BAD – That patient storytelling may be too slow for some casual moviegoers.