I have waited months to see Call Me By Your Name. I had very high expectations for it given all of the nominations (and wins) it has racked up since debuting last year at Sundance. I hate that it took so long for the film to get on a big screen somewhere near me, but it was well worth the wait.
This character driven drama follows Elio, a 17 year old living in the Italian village of Crema. He is intelligent but immature until he meets a worthy sparring partner for his witty intellect, Oliver, his professor father’s graduate student who is staying for the summer. Over the course of their time together, Elio and Oliver discover themselves drawn to each other in ways they could have never predicted.
From the spellbinding Sufjan Stevens songs to beautiful cinematography to a compelling romance, this movie has the power to illicit tears from even the most stone cold person. Myself included. It’s a blindingly realistic look into Elio’s world. Street noise is kept inside the sound mixing. Scenes are held for added effect. It never feels like you’re watching a movie, instead you’re an omniscient overlord looking down into someone’s life and watching their every move.
The chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer is unbeatable. I know the actors had plenty of time to prepare for what they would be doing, but they feel natural. Before seeing this, I was all for giving Gary Oldman the Academy Award for Best Actor for Darkest Hour. That feeling has changed. Timothee Chalamet has the best performance of 2017 as Elio, the protagonist and emotional center of the film. He’s immature but smart, driven but timid, and above all, his character shows us how to fall in love for the first time. He would be the youngest winner ever and he is so deserving.
I can’t overlook Armie Hammer. He portrays Oliver, the graduate student studying with Mr. Perlman, who eventually falls for his son. Upon first glance, he seems arrogant and detached from the position of intellect you would assume him to have, but it’s revealed through Elio’s eyes that he possesses kindness. I’ll be sorely disappointed if he isn’t nominated at this year’s Oscars.
The setting and score go hand in hand. This is some of the most beautiful cinematography I have ever seen as we cascade over the landscape of northern Italy. Director Luca Guadagnino isn’t afraid to hold a shot when the place he’s filming is this gorgeous. There are scenes where Elio and Oliver ride their bikes to the edge of the frame and he keeps the shot still with just the groundswell of sound that nature creates. It’s disgustingly perfect. I was unsure about the staccato piano score, but after seeing how the detached music correctly portrays the initially detached relationship between our two leading men, it fits. The music eventually becomes more fluid and precise as the film and their relationship moves forward. Every piece of music seems chosen with care.
I have to believe that is more about self discovery and the nature of first love or heartbreak than anything else. It’s raw and devastating by the end, but the journey there is nothing short of beautiful. This is the best film of 2017. There is no contest.
(I own no photos)