Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Call Me by Your Name
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: James Ivory
Based on: André Aciman’s novel
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel
Seen on: 12.3.2018

Teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) spends the summer in Italy with his parents as every year. And as every year, they are joined by a research assistant who can work with Elio’s father – a professor (Michael Stuhlbarg). Elio isn’t too thrilled about the intrusion that costs him his room. But this year the student who shows up is Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Oliver has something about him. Elio realizes that he is in love with Oliver, but Oliver’s detached and sometimes outright brazen manner leaves little doubt that he doesn’t reciprocate the feelings.

Call Me By Your Name is an incredibly tender and soft film with an atmosphere that stayed with me even after the film had ended. Despite some weaknesses, there is something magical about it.

I read the book not too long ago and liked it a lot; plus the film got a lot of love from other people before I saw it, so I was pretty excited for it and my expectations were high. That the film had the effect on me it did, is therefore very much to its credit – a lot could have gone wrong on the way.

That is not to say that the film doesn’t make mistakes. Starting with the casting: Chalamet is absolutely perfect for the role, but Hammer is just too old. His performance is good and I have no problem seeing why anybody would fall in love with him, but I had to keep reminding myself that Oliver is only 24 and not 34 – the former not being unproblematic either when it’s about a relationship with a 17-year-old, but definitely not as creepy as the latter.

There are also moments where the film drifted too much into allusions and subtext in its dialogues (especially when Elio confesses his feelings to Oliver or when he talks with his father about everything). Literal-minded Me was very happy to have read the book beforehand, so I could make heads or tails of those moments. I don’t know how somebody would deal with those scenes if they hadn’t read the book. Just as I don’t know what I would have made of movie!Oliver without book!Oliver. The remains even more firmly with Elio’s perspective, leaving Oliver more of a cypher which doesn’t always work, but mostly didn’t bother me

Be that as it may, the film manages to evoke the same summer-teenage-love-atmosphere that the book did (and mostly leaves out the book’s lesser second part). It looks beautiful, the music is great and I managed to lose myself in it in a way that is rare. It really is a special piece of cinema.

Summarizing: Beautiful and soft.

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