Call Me By Your Name is a film which has made the slow slog through the festival circuit over the better part of 2017. If you at all follow industry gossip, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the hotly anticipated movie. With the period romance finally beginning to roll out to theaters, is all the hype justified? 

Call Me By Your Name follows a young man named Elio (Timothee Chalamet) over the course of a summer. Everything changes when a graduate student named Oliver (Armie Hammer) moves in to work with Elio’s college professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg). Over the quiet months, the bond between Elio and Oliver grows as the two young men cautiously feel each other out. The film explores the ups and downs of first love as our characters move through the sun soaked, idyllic Italian setting. 

Call Me By Your Name is an absolutely beautiful film. Everything about the movie radiates with a light which even the greatest cinematographers can only dream of. When combining the beautiful and idyllic setting with the stunning look of the film, the movie creates a feeling of nostalgia. Watching Call Me By Your Name, the film feels like a throwback to the classic Italian films of the 1960s. It is a treat for the eyes. 

The film takes place over the span over a single, lazy summer for Elio. Readers the world over can undoubtedly remember the feeling as a child how summer seemed to stretch on and on. Summer vacation was glorious. The film brings this lazy, meandering feeling to the story. However, the narrative at the same time is expertly paced. At no point does the story feel like it drags or wanders. It simply continues at a relaxed and easy pace.

However, this film lives or dies on the performances of its actors. Lead actor Timothee Chalamet is having a heck of a 2017. In just a few short months, the relative newcomer is appearing in this film, the equally well-received Lady Bird and Hostiles. While the actor isn’t a complete newcomer to Hollywood (his filmography cites 21 film roles), Chalamet’s career is definitely on a meteoric rise. 

Chalamet absolutely shines in Call Me By Your Name. He puts forward an awards caliber performance as the seventeen year old Elio. The character’s layers and depth are finely developed. It is through this layered and emotional portrayal which we are able to truly understand this character. Perhaps most striking is Elio’s relatability. Elio puts on a facade initially during his dealings with Oliver. He’s very interested in the older man, but attempts to hide his feelings. Elio puts on a disinterested face, only showing his true self as their relationship later reaches a boiling point. So many have done this during the most intense part of a crush. 

While Chalamet is stellar throughout the entire movie, he’s absolutely brilliant in the second half of the film. His work during the third act is emotional, beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. He effectively conveys all of the intense feelings surrounding first love, and you instantly feel for Elio. Stay all the way through the credits to witness the devastating power of Chalamet’s acting. The young man’s performance is so emotional and nuanced throughout this movie that Chalamet should most definitely be a Best Actor nominee come awards season.

Not only does Chalamet put forward a career performance, but a number of actors establish themselves as potential award season contenders. Armie Hammer should see awards recognition for his complicated and heartfelt portrayal of Oliver. Hammer has been a fixture in Hollywood since his breakout in The Social Network, but saw his stock rise tremendously with this role. Also stellar in the movie is journeyman actor Michael Stuhlbarg. His performance is likable and heartfelt. However, he solidifies the strength and power in his performance towards the end of the film. In one scene, there’s barely a dry eye in the house as he speaks with a devastated Elio.

Finally, film’s emotionality is definitely a strength. Call Me By Your Name makes an important decision in choosing to align its narrative point-of-view with Elio. The choice is an complicated one, considering the character’s not-quite-legal age. The subject matter has raised eyebrows, especially in the wake of Hollywood’s current wave of sexual misconduct issues. Audience members will have to make up their own minds as to how they feel about the nature of the romance and decide to see the film accordingly. However, in choosing to spotlight Elio frames the romance in an effective way. This is a movie about the drama and pain of first love. Through Elio’s eyes we don’t see age. Rather, we see his feelings. This would definitely be a much different (though potentially just as interesting) film when viewed through Oliver’s eyes. 

Call Me By Your Name is a staggeringly beautiful film that brings together a fully fleshed out artistic vision from director Luca Guadagnino as well as a host of brilliant performances from its cast. Film fans and those who appreciate awards season fare should definitely add this to their must see lists of 2017. Also look for Call Me By Your Name to chart at the top of a number of Best Of 2017 lists as well.

Call Me By Your Name is playing in select markets around the country now. 




Kimberly Pierce
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