Set in the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy, Elio is living in his family’s Villa, spending his time reading books, listening and playing music, and enjoying time with his friends. Every summer his Father invites a promising grad student to assist him with his work, this summer it is the charismatic American, Oliver. Unimpressed by Oliver’s American sensibility, Elio is initially cold towards him but as the summer continues, Elio can no longer hold back his attraction for Oliver. Unsure of what his feelings towards Oliver are, Elio continues to spend his summer as a typical seventeen year old, until he and Oliver give in to their desires, expressing their love for each other. Luca Guadagnino beautifully directs Call Me By Your Name, and the film stars Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois.
Timothée Chalamet gives an incredible performance as Elio, announcing himself to the world as a powerhouse actor. Chalamet’s performance feels more than just a young man confronting his sexuality; there is more depth as he navigates his relationship with his parents and his friends, but grows into the man he wants to be. Chalamet’s performance is complimented by perhaps the best performance given by Armie Hammer, as he portrays Elio’s lover, Oliver. It is not hard to imagine Hammer as a handsome and charismatic American student, given how Hammer carries himself in real life, but the way he confronts his conflicted feelings for Elio add to a new level of Hammer’s talent. He might only have a small role but Michael Stuhbarg as Elio’s father Professor Perlman is a definite show stealer with his incredible final scene with Elio. It is this scene that will stay with you after you leave the film, as one of the best moments between a father and son, or parent and child in recent cinema.
There is no denying Luca Guadagnino is an incredible film maker, and he made an incredible film, I would love to learn more about his style and why he shot the film the way he did. It feels so unique and so personal, the way the camera moves with Elio and Oliver, the heightened sounds coming from off camera, even the dialogue enhances the experience. There are incredibly powerful moments through out this movie from Elio awkwardly expressing his feelings to Oliver, to final scenes between Elio and his parents.
Whilst the story of Call Me By Your Name did not hit me as emotionally as I expected, the setting of the film did. I feel like packing up my life and moving to Northern Italy to read books, swim and eat food. The setting of Italy almost creates a point of escapism for this romance, despite Oliver’s reservations, the safety of their Italian dream allows their romance to grow. The setting of Italy feels almost like a character in its own right, having an influence on the characters and the romance that ensues.
It is easy to see why this movie is having an emotional impact on so many people; it is a beautiful story of love, of life and a coming of age story for young Elio. Luca Guadagnino has made a beautiful piece of art, and like all art it will affect everyone differently. He is able to construct a strong narrative that moves at a slow and precise pace to establish a relationship between two men who struggle with their sexuality, but not with their passion for each other. Call Me By Your Name is so much more than just a gay romance; it is a beautiful coming of age story that draws the viewer into the majestic nature of Northern Italy. There are some incredibly moving moments through this beautiful movie, which I was able to truly appreciate as art, unfortunately the movie didn’t sweep me off my feet emotionally in the way other films this year have. That being said I would not be surprised to see Call Me By Your Name receive a Best Picture nomination and maybe even a win.
If you are a fan of art and art films then you should see Call Me By Your Name. Fans of Italian Cinema will also appreciate Luca Guadagnino’s work of art.
Call Me By Your Name scores 7.75/10
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