Friday, December 22, 2017

Call Me By Your Name: Movie Review


Sensual love and haunting sadness.
Call Me By Your Name is a film about love and sadness. I would argue that that’s all it’s about and it’s beautiful. Timothée Chalamet stars as Elio a teenager in Italy who likes lounging about. Armie Hammer co-stars as Oliver an American who has come to stay with Elio’s family and work with his father. Elio doesn’t like Oliver much and just views him as another arrogant American. The subtle shifts in the characters and their perceptions is particularly good. 2017

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay by: James Ivory
Based on the novel by André Aciman

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer

Elio’s family is rich and mostly lazy. His father (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a cultural history professor who hires American grad students to spend the summer in Italy, work with him, help him with his research and learn from him, and then spend the rest of the time hanging out by the beach. Elio and the other neighbourhood kids who also grew up rich just hang out. Sometimes the girls flirt, and very infrequently Elio flirts back.

Armie Hammer as Oliver and Timothée Chalamet as Elio. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Rich teenagers who do nothing are rarely popular characters in movies, especially not as the protagonist. But Chalamet infuses Elio with this relatable yearning and restlessness to get on with life. It takes a talented filmmaker and actor to make him both lazy and restless. Oliver spends his first day there sleeping, and Elio didn’t like that much. On Oliver’s second day, he corrects the professor with a history in etymology, which just seems to confirm his arrogance.

There’s a quiet confidence with Oliver which eventually really grows on the audience and then on Elio. He doesn’t just talk and correct people all the time, he talks after he has thought about what he wants to say. He also listens, and Elio just can’t help but take an interest in him.

Timothée Chalamet as Elio. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful exploration of their relationship, and Elio’s experiences of first love. It’s a film about those lazy, hazy days of summer, but there’s an odd urgency to the characters’ idleness. When they decide to go to town, they have to jump up and rush to their bikes immediately and then leisurely ride off together. It helps give the film a good pace despite the realization that very little actually happens.

Elio’s anxiety over the uncertainty of his feelings is palpable, and extremely relatable, and gives him sympathy which his actions wouldn’t otherwise offer him. It’s a touching film, it’s subtly sensual, and the effortless cinematography and haunting score leave you with a feeling of love and sadness – which the filmmakers very delicately captured.
Best of 2017