"Call Me By Your Name" Movie Review
Duration: 2h 10min
Recommended Age: 17+
Movie Review By
When watching the preview for the 2017 film, “Call Me By Your Name” many might pass it off as just another romance movie, but it went on to surpass all those preconceived notions in terms of character development and poignant lessons on not only life but personal growth, love, heartbreak, time and the beauty of it all.
Centered around 17 year old Elio Pearlman, played by Timotheé Chalamet, the story is set back in the summer of 1983 spanning over six weeks in Italy. Here we find him settled into the routine of summer in his family’s inherited villa; swimming, transposing music, hanging out with friends and feeling like he “knows nothing about the things that matter” despite his strong intellectual knowledge demonstrated in the film.
All until Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, a 24 year old graduate student comes to study and finish his thesis under Elio’s father, a professor. Automatically, the intrigue is magnetic but daunting for both parties for different reasons. While Chalamet and Hammer exhibit some of the most effortless, intimate and realistic onscreen chemistry I’ve seen in a long time, through not only words but the extensive use of purposeful body language throughout. The summer goes on to document the subtle nuances and slow progression that leads into the romance that ensues.
When watching this though, you will automatically feel for the characters in all the most contrasting ways. The film’s director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory made each scene so cinematically specific and each line spoken given such passionate intent and delivery that you feel this is no longer a scene in a movie but a poetic moment in time captured for posterity.
For example, through most of the film, Elio is inexperienced regarding his sexuality and often times finds himself, repeating other character’s dialogue or writing to himself . As if, to literally absorb what it means to him as it unfolds in the moment showing how genuine of character he is. This can be shown when he struggles with his feelings for Oliver and his feelings for his best friend Marzia. Knowing he is in love with Oliver and continually checking his watch to see what time it is so he can see Oliver, while being with Marzia who obviously displays feelings for him and expects reciprocation. It makes you feel for Elio because deep down we’ve been there or are there we’ve felt like we didn’t know anything about ourselves or other people or how we felt or the want for something you cannot explain or comprehend. Or you’ve been Oliver having feelings for someone but trying to minimize them or stay back so you don’t mess everything up while still feeling the urge to be free. Some of us have even been Marzia, the unrequited love, the one who could be “the one”, but everyone can just tell isn’t. That sense of identifiability in this film makes it hit you right in your heartstrings, in the most unpredictable ways.
The most important part I found in this film though was the theme of love, no, not just romantic love, but the love of family, and the love of life, and the appreciation and purpose of people in your life. Elio and Oliver share a true love and unbreakable bond despite endings, Marzia forgives and understands the reasons why Elio couldn’t love her without a spoken word, Elio’s mom stays silent but facilitates opportunities for him to be happy with Oliver, but it is really Elio’s father, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, who teaches us all about the real truth of love and loss.
Towards the end of the film Stuhlbarg delivers a monologue so powerful, most of the theater was using their popcorn stained napkins to wipe away tears. While speaking to his son, Stuhlbarg stresses how you must allow yourself to feel, to feel pain so you can feel and remember the joy that caused it. That we must not rip out pages of ourselves like books to heal faster, because then we will run out of parts of ourselves to offer. Michael Stuhlbarg’s character, Mr. Pearlman, represents the kind of accepting and compassionate parent no matter what you identify as you either long to have or strive to be one day.
After seeing this film, I would recommend it to anybody, especially LVA students, because it deals with such relevant themes despite the vintage setting. The film explores the need to be free and lost (Oliver’s dance scene), the need for self discovery (Elio’s character development) and the need for love and acceptance and to embrace pain to allow yourself to remember joy.
Music in the film is also presented as one of the main tools that pushes the story along including that of the Psychedelic Furs, Joe Esposito, and Sufjan Stevens. No doubt, the song “Visions of Gideon” by Sufjan Stevens will end up breaking your heart in the most melancholy and beautifully tragic way possible encompassing all those feelings “Call Me By Your Name” brings out in you.
Because in the end you won’t be able to help but smile and hope that one day someone, “Calls you by their name, and you call them by yours