Call Me By Your Name is a moving, sweet, tender, and poignant story of connection and love, but with a twist, at least as far as these kinds of stories-of-the-heart go.
The romance is between a handsome and assured twentysomething university research assistant and his professor's intelligent 17-year-old son who is struggling with his sexuality.
Their relationship, which begins as friendly rivals and ends in a life-changing (and saving) bond, takes place over an idyllic summer in the early 1980s in a lovely home just outside of an Italian village, where the professor of archaeology (Michael Stuhlbarg) lives with his wife, son, and daughter.
TRAILER: Call Me By Your Name
The dashing grad student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), arrives at the home to spend the summer helping the professor with research and in-the-field work.
Elio (Timothée Chalamet) notices Oliver immediately and at first resents Oliver’s presence as the new favored son. Oliver is smart, witty, and at 6 feet, 5-inches naturally commands attention everywhere he goes.
‘Call Me By Your Name’
Directed by Luca Guadagnino. Screenplay adapted by James Ivory from the novel by Andre Aciman. A Sony Pictures Classic release playing at Franklin Park. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, and some language. Running time: 132 minutes.
Critic's rating: ★★★★½
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, and Michael Stuhlbarg.
Oliver playfully reacts to Elio’s jealousy, innocent as it may be, while offering mild flirtations that confuses and even upsets the younger Elio. Wrestling with his sexuality at the age of self-discovery and in an era when being closeted was often preferable to coming out, Elio casually dates a local woman his age. Any affection in the relationship is mostly one-sided, though, and only fosters more questions and angst for Elio, who secretly hoped Oliver would grow jealous of the woman.
Eventually, after weeks of hints, fights, stares, and quiet longing, Oliver and Elio embrace and let their pent-up passions take hold. In that moment Call Me By Your Name is no longer another “when will they ever get together?” summer romance but something much more profound, as two souls — one guarded, one questioning — find honesty and love.
What happens between them in the weeks that follow are those familiar happy-sad moments that take place in every young relationship, as Oliver and Elio push and accept boundaries and build trust. It ultimately leads to life-changing truths and revelations.
Directed with grace and warmth by Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love), Call Me By Your Name is also an affecting coming-of-age story. Elio is like any 17-year-old, as he tests new looks and tries on new personalities to fit his mood and the moment. He’s not just coming to terms with his sexuality, but his burgeoning adulthood, including his public identity and place in the world.
In Oliver, Elio sees someone not so much older with a similar story and who is now confident in who he is. Much of that is projection, however; what Elio doesn’t know, at least at first, is that Oliver is closeted and leery of others finding out he is gay.
Chalamet (Lady Bird) is a revelation in the role, as he delicately weaves through a maze of complicated emotions and reactions, as Elio’s heart yearns and aches and his hormones rage. And Hammer (The Social Network, The Birth of a Nation), as Oliver, sets a new high standard for himself as an actor by not just playing to his physical gifts, height and appearance, but channeling the less obvious emotions and even quiet pain of someone so guarded and whose secret makes them feel so vulnerable.
Equally good and memorable onscreen is Stuhlbarg as the gentle and kindly father and mentor, who always seems to have the right words or needed smile.
Written by James Ivory decades ago and based on André Aciman's novel, Call Me By Your Name, despite deliberate references to ’80s new wave music, rings of immediacy, and with quaint Italy as its backdrop, the film also serves as a beautiful and warm respite from our winter chill.
Most importantly, Call Me By Your Name is an honest story of hearts on fire, broken, and then healed, with wise affection for its characters and their struggles, and a message of tolerance and love for us all.
Contact Kirk Baird at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.
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