Call Me By Your Name
“Call Me By Your Name” is a stunningly gorgeous exploration of romance and sexuality.
The sophisticated coming-of-age story set in suburban Italy follows a 17-year-old Italian teenager and a 24-year-old American who gravitate toward each other. The two men embark on a summer romance that is tender and powerfully resonant.
In a breakout role, Timothee Chalamet, a Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School graduate, plays Elio, the 17-year-old who lives with his family in Italy. His father, an American professor, employs a precocious and arrogant graduate student who comes to live with the family for the summer.
What follows are two parallel narratives. One is extrinsic and obvious. The two men fall in love. The other weaves and darts beneath the surface, following an emotional path of surprise and resonance, as Elio discovers his sexuality and personhood. This second subconscious narrative is the bleeding heart of the film and should resonate with any viewer who has ever felt attachment toward another human being.
Armie Hammer plays the graduate student and lover with hilarious wit and genuine tenderness. His character, Oliver, is imperfect and godlike, obnoxious and considerate, crude and beautiful. Hammer nails this dynamic with bravura.
Despite the greatness of its lead actors, Michael Stuhlbarg steals the movie. Acting as the emotional translator of the film, Stuhlbarg delivers yet another reliably fantastic character performance. His monologue to Elio toward the end of the film is a near-perfect movie moment.
The Italian setting is beautifully portrayed by Sayomhu Mukdeeprom’s cinematography, shot with 35 mm film. Encompassing the viewer with whispers of love and romance, the suburban Italian scenery and classic architecture provide a desirous backdrop to this intimate romance.
Sufjan Stevens wrote two original songs for Guaragnino, infusing the film with his lyric gentleness and musical warmth. Along with the cinematography, Stevens’ music creates a cozy aura of adolescence.
Erotic, but never explicit, the film succeeds on account of its source material. Based on Andre Aciman’s best-seller of the same name, “Call Me By Your Name” hits every note of a coming-of-age romance without ever feeling derivative or cliché. Its characters are distinctive and interesting, and their actions are neither surprising nor predictable.
“Call Me By Your Name” is deeply affecting and personal, due in large part to its gifted leads. Profoundly uplifting for the human spirit, the film is required viewing in this desolate year of tragedy.