A young student sparks a romance with his
father's research assistant in 1980's Italy.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Written by James Ivory
Starring Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Vanda Capriolo
Based on the novel by André Aciman
Oscar Wins - Best Adapted Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet), Best Original Song (Mystery of Love)
I expected Call Me by Your Name to be another self-indulgent tale of a teenager who tries to find himself. Basically, I expected another Lady Bird but from a male perspective. Watching this movie completely uprooted my expectations. Call Me by Your Name is an emotionally powerful love story that keeps itself grounded by showing a realistic romance between two men. This film teaches you about the great pain associated with first love, and how it's ultimately unavoidable no matter your gender or sexual preference. It's anchored by the raw performances of its two leads, and it features some of most emotional scenes in recent years.
Timothée Chalamet is Elio, a young student vacationing in Northern Italy with his parents. Upon meeting Oliver (Armie Hammer), his father's new research assistant, Elio is overcome with new and confusing feelings towards him. Slowly but surely, a romance blossoms between Elio and Oliver that allows both of them to fully embrace a side of themselves they would otherwise hide from the world. This part of the film is the most poignant from beginning to end, but it takes quite a long while getting there. Nearly the first hour is banal back-and-forth between Elio and his friends or Elio and Oliver or Elio and his parents. I would argue that this film is about thirty minutes too long, but that's my only issue.
This film offers some glowing insights into the nature of first love and how it shapes every relationship in your life from thereon. The tears, the laughs, the shortness of breath, all of it felt real and strong. The chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer drives this film until the very end, which features a closing scene of Elio crying into the camera that just breaks your heart. Call Me by Your Name was a welcome surprise that changed my mind about films dealing with teenage angst and self-discovery. I suppose all it takes is the right script and the right director, as well as a great cast. With that, anything can become compelling and powerful.