Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name follows 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) as he spends the summer with his family in their 17th Century Italian villa along with his father’s doctoral student, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois and is directed by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love, A Bigger Splash).
“But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
Set in the summer of 1983 when the Sony Walkman was all the rage and people just showed up at your house without prior cell phone confirmation, Call Me By Your Name delivers on a gorgeously heartfelt, emotional witty punch in the gut that I absolutely adored watching. Following my watch on a Tuesday night and expressing my adoration for it on Instagram, my best friend who I was planning on meeting up with the next day proved that fate exists by stating she was going to ask whether I wanted to watch the film when we went out. After thinking about it for about a morsel of half a second, I sent the showtimes for Wednesday and basked in the glory of this phenomenal film for a second time less than 24 hours after my initial watch. It is a surprisingly rewatchable film although I must warn you that frequent bouts of tears will endure on subsequent watches, similarly to when you watched it for the very first time.
Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet excel in every scene they appear in. As the story mostly follows Elio’s perspective, Chalamet shines as a young man struggling to understand the flood of feelings that plague him. And honestly, if you encounter a human being who possesses even an ounce of charisma that Armie Hammer has, who wouldn’t briefly picture what their lives would look like together? The acclaim Chalamet is receiving (particularly with his recent Academy Award for Best Actor nomination) is infinitely well deserved. I do think it’s quite a travesty that Hammer is not receiving similar awards consideration for the Best Supporting category. He not only works incredibly well with Chalamet on screen, his presence is known and felt throughout the film – I felt a jolt of excitement every time he appeared because I knew he brought his A game to this role and his character is elevated immensely because of it.
There are also no weak links in the supporting cast, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg execute virtually flawless performances as the Perlman parents. The refined monologue you’ve probably heard of that caused Frank Ocean to declare a new change in parent will seep into your very core with how eloquent the words are and how gentle Stuhlbarg’s approach is. While discussing the scene, he provided some insight into what he believed his character was thinking at that moment and how he wanted to “be honest as a parent”:
“… I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son at a time when his son needs it. I understand that his father is not just a father, he’s a person and had a life before he met Elio’s mother. He has some, perhaps, joy at the fact that his son has felt something so deeply and perhaps a sense of regret from his own past that he didn’t take a road that he wanted to. Or maybe a road he wanted to take and did take and it didn’t workout. I think he’s offering up a part of himself to his son that his son needs at that moment.”
As someone whose favourite films revolve around the concept of characters in minimal locations simply talking to each other (see: Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy or 12 Angry Men), Call Me By Your Name provides a captivating look at sexuality and the internal struggles/complexities involved with it. The film takes its time to develop the characters, provides a mesmerizing sense of location and allows the audience to feel as though they are present within every scene. They are a fly on the wall, watching how these individuals with their own difficulties and joys communicate with one another verbally and through gestural actions. The various symbolic motifs present provide a further layer of depth to the film that anyone whose interested in analyzing film will have a field day with. Yet it does well in not bogging the actual film down with heavy-handed imagery, the nuances present will give those interested in further watches something to look out for. On my second watch, I paid close attention to Guadagnino’s use of flies and the various colours worn by the characters because, as Breaking Bad has taught us, everything means something.
Besides the obvious emotional components that make up Call Me By Your Name, it is remarkably funny. I found myself laughing more than I anticipated going into a film centered around lovers who will probably never be because thanks society. If the press circuit for the film has shown anything, it’s that Hammer and Chalamet genuinely care about each other and appreciates the talent one another brings to the film. It’s an absolute joy seeing them work together and, most importantly, their relationship feels like a true progression of a same-sex relationship between two compelling individuals.
How Were The Other Aspects Of Call Me By Your Name?
The work of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom as cinematographer is nothing short of fantastic. Not a single frame is wasted in the film, every sequence is meticulously crafted by Guadagnino and his DP, taking the time to develop not only the characters but the various astounding landscapes present absolutely everywhere.
The soundtrack is also a vital aspect of the film that I’ve listened to on repeat since my watches as it contains the toe-tapping talents of The Psychedelic Furs, Loredana Bertè, Bandolero, Giorgio Moroder and Joe Esposito. The clip of Hammer dancing to The Furs’ “Love My Way” was how I originally found out about the film and the way the song is utilized is honestly one (or 2) of the major highlights of the film for me.
Sufjan Stevens composed two songs featured prominently in the film, “Visions of Gideon” and the Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “Mystery Of Love.” I cannot wait for the upcoming Blu-Ray release so I can constantly remain in awe of everything about this masterpiece… Also for any Canadians out there, in certain sequences Chalamet looks identical to a young version of our current radiating specimen of a Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
If you’re looking for a heartfelt, witty and aesthetically gorgeous drama featuring two phenomenal lead actors, check out Call Me By Your Name.
Call Me By Your Name receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.