Call Me By Your Name Review – Beautiful; Well Crafted Story of Discovery

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Call Me By Your Name, from Sony Pictures Classic, presents a story that could be taboo, scandalous, a journey of awakenings in the 1980’s as a friendship takes on a life of its own leading to romance, love, and acceptance.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name stars Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Cesar, Esther Garrel, Victoire DuBois, Vanda Capriolo, Antonio Rimoldi, Elena Bucci, Marco Sgrosso, Andre Aciman and Peter Spears. Based on the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman the screenplay was adapted by James Ivory

Call Me By Your Name begins with two teenagers, Elio, played by Timothee Chalamet and Marzia, played by Esther Garrel, talking about the arrival of the summer doctoral student and wondering how he would rate against the others they have seen every year for some time now.

With that a taxi pulls up and a man, Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, who appears scrunched inside a very small European car, steps out and is greeted by Professor Perlman. Suffering from considerable jet lag, Oliver is shown his room and within minutes is in a deep sleep.

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As we find out Oliver is quite unlike any of the other Graduate Assistants Professor Perlman, played by Michael Stuhlbarg and Annella Perlman, played by Amira Casar, have hosted. He has business that needs to handled and as the Professor is working, Elio becomes the guide. Soon the two are biking throughout the countryside. Elio, a music prodigy, and as one would expect very intellectual and a high achiever.

As his family comes to the villa in the summers and holidays he meets with Marzia, and the two are the same age, and with hormones raging they seem to be destined for a summer romance. Elio, as he announces at breakfast to his father and Oliver, that he was this close to having sex with Marzia he just didn’t have the courage.

Elio is home in this small village where his family has spent every summer as far back as he can remember, and each summer they gather and joke about his father’s doctoral student. This time, as they watch Oliver dance it is different, the boys, all about 17, look at him and want to be him and the girls, near the same age, want to be with him.

They each see Oliver through eyes of longing as he is exceptionally different. With all American good looks, tall and athletically built; he is a Vacation Man. To say he is the fantasy would be true, although it doesn’t appear that Elio is infatuated by the person, the man, as he is genuinely interested in the girl next door, it is more by what he believes is essentially the next stage to his own life.

Elio appears to be drawn to Oliver, not as a mentor as he is as intellectually inclined and savvy as Oliver, more as a dominating male figure that represents and provides a glimpse into his own future. His prowess, his freedom, the way he embraced life and the moment and his attractiveness.

The film takes the audience on a journey of discovery, of passions shared, and not simply of each other as they also both share the passions of Professor Perlman’s ancient Greco-Roman culture expertise.

The relationship between Elio and Oliver builds with anticipation. Denial, admission, denial, possibility, confusion, second guessing, expectation, damage control, unsureness suddenly the summer that began so slowly is speedy towards an ending not planned.

Call Me By Your Name is a very good, artfully and tastefully crafted film. I was genuinely surprised at the beauty of the film. It is uniquely attractive to all audiences.

Clearly the dominating theme is the relationship between the Elio and Oliver and possibly due to the beauty of the country, nature and the intellectual attraction the story draws in the viewer with an opportunity to be a part of this adventure.

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Armie Hammer seems born for this role. He was perfectly cast. It is a breakout performance for newcomer Timothee Chalamet. The onscreen chemistry between the two was unmistakable, intense and profound. Michael Stuhlbarg was also impressive as Professor Perlman whom he portrayed with an exactness, a perfection.

Of course the film is filled with nuances of life in a small Italian Villa, the household help that gives new meaning to farm to table as the day’s catch is dinner, the al fresco dining, good wine, and the unusual guests.

Call Me By Your Name is what at least one summer in life should be filled with, romance, discovery, exploring another country, wondering aimlessly without thought or concern for time, place, season and just having the chance to be, whom ever and whatever one wants to be. Constraints, boundaries, expectations will always be waiting.

It is an aesthetically beautiful movie, with a sophistication that is appealing. The complexities of the events are not overlooked bringing the end to a life altering crescendo.

Call Me By Your Name opens in select cities November 24, 2017 with a wider release to follow. See it.


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