In the summer of 1983 Oliver (Armie Hammer) travels to Italy to help archaeology professor Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) with his academic paperwork. For the duration of his stay Oliver lives with the family and he quickly bonds with the professor’s 17-year-old son Elio (Timothée Chalamet). Oliver’s standoffish nature confuses and intrigues Elio, who soon develops feelings for him despite already being involved with a local girl. As the summer progresses, Oliver and Elio’s relationship picks up pace and a secret romance begins to blossom.
By now you’ll have no doubt heard all of the critical acclaim that’s surrounding Call Me By Your Name. As I write this review the film could well pick up some major awards at the Oscars as it’s been doing very well on the awards circuit already. With so much buzz around the movie, which is based on André Aciman’s novel on the same name, I approached Call Me By Your Name with some trepidation expecting to be disappointed if not a little underwhelmed.
I can safely say that the film deserves every accolade it’s received and plenty more on top. Director Luca Gadagnino has created a stunning theatrical masterpiece that explores first love and the long-lasting effects it has on you. James Ivory’s screenplay is wonderful and he doesn’t waste a single word. I’ve seen some criticism that it is at times ponderous but that’s not something I agree with. The dialogue, particularly between Oliver and Elio, is fantastic as they dance around in circles trying to figure out how the other feels.
At its heart Call Me By Your Name is a sweeping love story about two characters who don’t expect the path their meeting one another takes. One of the things I really liked about the movie is that the fact the two characters are male is neither here or there. Of course with it being set in the early 80s times were obviously different and Oliver and Elio conduct themselves with caution, but it doesn’t go down the all too obvious in the closet style storyline that cinema can overdo. Instead it fully fleshes out two characters that you can root for and relate to.
Call Me By Your Name takes you through a real gamut of emotions. Elio is the character you sympathise with the most and that’s in large part to the remarkable performance of Timothée Chalamet. There’s no doubt that this is a breakout role for the young actor and he portrays Elio with such realism that I felt everything the character did. When he was happy so was I, when he was heartbroken I sobbed my heart out. His chemistry with Armie Hammer is off the charts and the sexual tension is compelling. The two are simply incredible together and the movie soars when they share the screen alone. It must also be said that Hammer hasn’t quite received the plaudits he deserves. This is by far the best performance I’ve seen from him and I liked the way he played Oliver as nonchalant and aloof.
The cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is superb throughout the movie. The glorious locations are given plenty of room to breathe and their bright colours really helps convey the sun-drenched surroundings of Elio and Oliver. At times the camera makes the vastest of spaces feel intimate and private and it’s often what you don’t see in the movie that has the most profound effect on you.
The special features on the Blu-ray release are superb. There’s a music video for Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens, two commentaries (one with Guadagnino and one with Chalamet and Stuhlbarg), an informative ‘In Conversation’ featurette with the stars and director and a look at the making of the film.
Call Me By Your Name is a film that I found surprisingly emotive. I believed everything the characters go through and do, and I felt very deeply about the movie as the credits rolled. The film captures the joy of falling in love and the pain of not always being able to get what you want. I thought about the film for days after I’d seen it and I found myself itching to watch it again. I’ve also shed plenty of tears for the deeply impactful storyline and it’s one of the finest films I’ve seen in a very, very long time.
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois Director: Luca Guadagnino Writer: James Ivory Certificate: 15 Duration: 132 mins Released by: Sony Pictures