Call Me By Your Name is a rare film that other films can learn a thing or two from
Hollywood may have the tendency to repeatedly produce hot garbage and ordinary films year after year, but every once in awhile, it produces a rare marvel like Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name.
The film takes place over a balmy, quiet summer in 1983 northern Italy. Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old music prodigy/book savant is staying with his family in their 17th-century villa while Oliver (Armie Hammer), a chiselled 24-year-old doctoral student, has been invited to work as a research assistant with Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an archaeology professor.
While basking in the sun-drenched atmosphere of the Italian countryside, Elio and Oliver begin to bond over their hour-long bike rides, weekly dips in the local river, and discussions about classical art. Slowly, but intimately, they develop a sexual desire for one another. Even as they pursue their own relationships with the opposite sex, both Elio and Oliver wait for the opportune moment to express their lust and fascination with each other.
The chemistry between the leading men grows organically and it chronologically makes sense for the viewer. These characters take time to feel comfortable with each other and the film takes its time documenting it. This leaves room for a bit of humour as with the infamous peach scene.
The set design, cinematography, and dialogue presents 1983 perfectly. With a few subtle nods like Elio’s Talking Heads t-shirt as an indicator of the bustling, idiosyncratic culture of the decade, Call Me By Your Name feels peacefully isolated in its own world.
The long, drawn-out shots of Elio and Oliver’s bike rides and swims are a unique and stylistic choice meant to paint the delicacy of the love the two characters share. The film knows it’s a rare entity, much like the love between the two.
The score, arranged primarily by Daniel Pemberton, with two original songs by Sufjan Stevens also needs some spotlight. The music in the film is uniquely diverse, ranging from baroque piano covers to occasional strings, but Stevens’ original indie songs “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon” beautifully match the raw emotions and fleeting romance felt between Elio and Oliver.
At its heart, Call Me By Your Name is a wonderfully special story of coming-of-age passion and a rare time when a film lacks a characterized, antagonistic force determined to destroy the love between two individuals. Elio’s parents are content with his love for Oliver and even subtly offer their support in their own ways.
At first, Oliver is worried about the societal implications and repercussions of his relationship with Elio, but as he spends more time with him, his worries diminish.
The film’s point is summed up nicely by Elio’s father as he and Elio reflect on the summer and Stuhlbarg delivers one of the most powerful monologues in cinema I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The ending credits are also another stylistic choice that prove Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age marvel.
Fri., Mar. 9 & 13 (9:30 pm)Sat., Mar. 10 (6:45 pm)
Call Me By Your Name