“Call Me By Your Name”s
Italian director Luca Guadagnino delivers one of the year’s most striking, eloquent films, a coming-of-age summer romance with a profound emotional impact.
It just happens to be about a 17 year old boy who falls for a somewhat older man in his father’s employ.
This shouldn’t be a relevant factor in 2018, but less progressive audiences will balk at “Call Me By Your Name,” a critical darling and a four-time Academy Award nominee.
Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, “Call Me By Your Name” follows Elio, a free-spirited young man living in an Italian villa with his family for the summer. He resents the presents, and is then later smitten by, Oliver, a graduate student that comes to live in the villa.
As Elio, Timothée Chalamet broods in emotional turmoil and yet also exudes a brash teenage confidence that rivals outright cockiness. His nuanced performance radiates off the screen with a depth many young actors simply don’t have.
His Elio dips his toe into the waters of exploration with a care and hesitancy that speaks to the universal truth of first love regardless of sexual orientation. It’s a performance that should cement Chalamet as a lead actor in major independent cinema for years to come.
Armie Hammer flashes the All-American charming smile as he attempts to match Chalamet scene to scene as Elio’s love interest, Oliver. At times, Hammer holds his own and displays authentic chemistry with Chalamet, but is often overwhelmed by the younger actor’s performance.
While Chalamet melts into the role of Elio, Hammer portrays Oliver as a shade of Hammer himself, which occasionally feels slightly inauthentic.
In one of the year’s most outstanding supporting performances as Elio’s father, Michael Stuhlbarg subtly commands the screen with a poignant elegance in the film’s final moments. Stuhlbarg delivers in astonishing, heartbreaking monologue that perfectly encapsulates genuine unconditional love from a father to his son.
An act that may seem so simple – having meaningful conversation on a couch – is actually incredibly difficult to pull off in an authentic manner. Stuhlbarg refuses to force the issue, allowing the moment to come to him and resulting in the film’s single best scene.
“Call Me By Your Name” boasts one of the year’s most picturesque locations, the northern Italian countryside, lovingly shot in 35mm by cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. With a little bit of grit and a bright yellow hue, Mukdeeprom envelops the film with a timeless warmth that will captivate audiences from start to finish.
Each moment feels pulled straight out of a different era, transporting viewers in a way only true cinema masters can. Guadagnino and Mukdeeprom craft organically composed shots that give audiences a definitive sense of place, warming their hearts in the Italian countryside and priming them for an emotionally charged third act.
“Call Me By Your Name” has made a strong showing during awards season, earning Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Song. The film is unlikely to take the top prize with stronger sentiments for front-runners like “The Shape of Water” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” as well as the thought that “Call Me By Your Name” is too similar to LGBT coming of age drama “Moonlight,” which took home Best Picture last year.
Of its nominations, Chalamet stands the best chance of winning in what appears to be an even race with Gary Oldman’s rousing performance is Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.”
“Call Me By Your Name” is certainly not for all audiences – the leisurely pace will bore some and a controversial scene involving fruit will turn away others.
Moviegoers willing to give an untraditional, yet simultaneously classic romance film a chance will find “Call Me By Your Name” one of the year’s most intriguing, quality pieces of cinema.