Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Genre: Romantic Drama Running Time: 2 hrs. 12 min.

Release Date: November 24th, 2017 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Luca Guadagnino Actors: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois, Vanda Capriolo

 


 

I

n the summer of 1983, somewhere in Northern Italy, Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to stay with Professor Perlman’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) family. He takes over 17-year-old son Elio’s (Timothee Chalamet) room, relocating the boy to the adjacent quarters, which shares a bathroom. Oliver is so exhausted from the trip that he sleeps well into the next day, cutting into his relatively short six-week stint to aid the professor in archaeological research and cataloguing.

The estate is sizable, backing against a vast orchard, tended to by Elio’s mother, Annella (Amira Casar), while a maid and a farmhand wander about. The weather is stifling and there isn’t much to do, though Elio spends his time reading books, transcribing music, or swimming at the river. When Oliver makes himself at home rather quickly, exhibiting an informality with the Perlmans and their friends that seems a touch arrogant, Elio becomes irritated. And when Oliver grabs his shoulders aggressively for an impromptu massage during a volleyball game, Elio is noticeably disquieted.

Oliver has a background in etymology, which he uses strategically to sound impressive. And Elio plays the piano, which he too uses to convey emotions and manipulate the new company – a man whom he initially believes doesn’t like him. As the two spend more and more time together, they begin exploring a fondness for one another that neither expected, particularly for Elio, who isn’t as experienced or comfortable with his sexuality.

Oliver seems forceful at the start, though the film wisely includes several components to make the eventual love story less obvious. Elio pursues Marzia (Esther Garrel) sexually, despite struggling to work up the courage to seal the deal, while Chiara (Victoire Du Bois) tries her damnedest to seduce Oliver. But both men parade around shirtless and in shorts for the majority of the picture, making it difficult to avoid the erotic tension and the opportunities for Elio to experiment with his sexuality, both physically and psychologically. Plus, many of the research slides Oliver must study are of naked male forms from a conspicuously sensual period.

The drama (of which there is little, or maybe none at all, since the adversity couldn’t be more opposite to that of something like in “Moonlight”) and romance should have been enough, especially considering the rarity of homosexual lead characters in cinema. But “Call Me By Your Name” wishes to additionally impart some sort of quirkiness or prominent individuality – chiefly through the music, which is predominantly a lone piano fingering away on borderline dissonant notes, gratingly interrupting the serenity of the uneventful routines of the town. And at other moments, the tunes cut out abruptly, as if to remind viewers that the music was intruding in the first place.

There’s a slowness to the picture as well, as if extra minutes will somehow make the chemistry or love story more realistic, even if they observe repetitious leisure and lovemaking. This is entirely unnecessary, since the actors are superbly convincing and the focus on human interactions (as intimate or uncomfortable or denuding as they might be) doesn’t lend itself to the fantastical or the overdramatic. By the end (which is annoyingly composed of numerous endings), the journey is one of sweetness (or bittersweetness) and simplicity, but not profundity (save for Perlman’s unexpected supportiveness).

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10