“Call Me By Your Name,” dir. Luca Guadagnino
It’s the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman , a precocious 17- year-old young man, spends his days in his family’s 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia. Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father, an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella, a translator, who favor him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. While Elio’s sophistication and intellectual gifts suggest he is already a fully-fledged adult, there is much that yet remains innocent and unformed about him, particularly about matters of the heart. One day, Oliver, a 24 year-old American college graduate student working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
The 2017 Oscar race has proven to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Plenty of remarkable films have been competing for buzz at various film festivals throughout the year such as “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Lady Bird,” and “The Shape of Water.” The one film that’s stuck around all year garnering the most passionate responses since the Sundance Film Festival is “Call Me By Your Name,” a coming-of-age romance unlike any other.
As soon as the film starts, director Luca Guadagnino transports the audience into the luscious Italian setting. Every moment following Elio in his transcendent journey, love is in the air. With the help of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s gorgeous cinematography, the audience is able to take in the liveliness of Italy, wonderfully complementing the feelings of our central characters.
The atmosphere in “Call Me By Your Name” is nothing short of mesmerizing. Something that plays a large part in adding to that vibrancy is the use of classical music. Not a moment goes by where your heart sours along with the musical swells. Surfjan Stevens also created two original songs for the film, “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon,” that both should get Oscar consideration as two of the best songs in any movie this year.
There have been an incredible amount of outstanding performances from actors this year, whether it be Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project,” Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird,” Sam Rockwell in “Three Billboards,” James Franco in “The Disaster Artist,” and current Best Actor frontrunner Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour.” However, no performance this year is more powerful than what Timothée Chalamet brings to the character of Elio. At such a young age, he’s able to convey an unbelievable variety of complex emotions that pierce right through your soul. By the time the film comes to an end, he will leave you speechless.
No romance film is complete if the audience doesn’t feel the bond between the leads. Armie Hammer does a terrific job at making Oliver the bright ray of life that Elio needs. His charisma and effortless charm make him irresistible. This character could have so easily fallen short and come off as a one-dimensional hot guy in the wrong performer’s hands, but Hammer ensures that Oliver is someone who has desires of his own and that he’s not just in service of Elio.
Michael Stuhlbarg has always been a sublime character actor who rarely gets the opportunity to shine through and make a major impact on the films he stars in. That is thankfully not the case here as he not only provides beautiful moments of levity throughout, but also has a tremendous knockout emotional moment that made the audience tear up at all three screenings I attended of this film. That scene alone should garner him his first Oscar nomination.
What more is there to say. Very few movies this year have captured love with this much beauty and grace. Regardless of sexual orientation, “Call Me By Your Name” will move you in ways unimaginable. There’s a reason why so many audience members throughout the year have been deeply effected by this tour de force. Believe the hype and see it immediately.
Were you one of the lucky people to see “Call Me By Your Name” at any of the festivals throughout the year? Are you eagerly awaiting for it to expand to your city? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.
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