Call Me By Your Name
It’s 1983 and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is a seventeen year-old who spends his summers in Northern Italy with his parents in a villa his mother (imothée Chalamet) inherited. Every summer his archaeology professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) has a grad student stay with them and help them with his work. This year it’s a hunky American Jew, Oliver (Armie Hammer), who crashes in Elio’s room, pushing Elio into the room next door. At first Elio finds Oliver to be arrogant, showing off his intelligence and rudely saying “Later,” whenever he leaves. However, aside from transcribing music and reading, there isn’t much for Elio to do and so he finds himself hanging out with Oliver, who has less to do. While Oliver plays volleyball with a group of kids, Elio watches. When he gets up Oliver gives him a little back rub. Afterwards they continue to hang out, Elio seemingly changing his feelings for Oliver — and possibly attracted to him. Another night, they go with a group dancing in town, and Elio sees Oliver kiss a local girl. Elio then invites his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel) for a night swim, and although nothing happens, he proudly boasts to Oliver that he could have had sex with her just to see his reaction. Elio continues to be around Oliver as much as possible, tagging along with his father and Oliver on an archaeology expedition, and going with him into town. Finally, on a bike ride to town by a WWI memorial he indirectly confesses having feelings for Oliver. Oliver tells him he’s been good, and they have nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s better left unsaid. And then Oliver disappears for a few days, and Elio wonders if he blew it, and thus settles for having sex with Marzia. Did he blow his chance with Oliver?
Call Me By Your Name is a very European-style film with moods and images taking precedent over story. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, the movie has a similar feeling and look as his other Italian-set movie, A Bigger Splash. This time the setup and story is simpler: two guys are attracted to each other, but don’t know if the other has the same feelings. With that, it’s also a tale of one’s first love, and the pain and joy involved with that. Did this need to take two hours to unfold? Hardly. The middle stretches could easily have been tightened up — after all how many times do they have to go swimming? Still the actors help you make it through that stretch (along with the gorgeous Italian setting) with both Hammer and Chalamet making their characters far more interesting and complex. Michael Stuhlbarg felt like he was underutilized, minus the terrific monologue he gets near the end. Despite the pacing issues, it’s a pretty darn good movie, with certain moments, like the ending shot of Elio in front of the fireplace, leaving a strong impact and making it a movie worth checking out.