There are certain times in movies where I will absolutely call a pig a pig when it absolutely presents as one. It's easy to do that sometimes, call things as they are or how they present to be. I thought, for sure, that I would not enjoy Call Me By Your Name because of what it appeared to be on the surface.
The surface lied.
Call Me By Your Name starts almost identically to the trailer posted above. In the summer of 1983, Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives at Elio's (Timothée Chalamet) family summer home in the Lombardy Region of Northern Italy to help Elio's father with some research work (Yes, I'm biased. It's set in Italy. Of course, I loved the backdrop).
It's apparent almost immediately that Elio is taken by Oliver. The curiosity. The wonder. The ageless ambiguity. If I could pick a word to describe Call Me By Your Name, it would be "sensuality," and that comes with a warning: I do not find men sexually attractive whatsoever. I chose sensuality because Elio is experiencing things for the first time that he's never felt. Sure, he's a cocky 17-year-old, so he pushes some boundaries, especially with an adult man, but because we see things in Call Me By Your Name from Elio's point of view, it's in an earnest manner. It's in a new-to-him, sensual manner. And we're right there with him, through all of the emotions he experiences.
The characters in Call Me By Your Name keep eclipsing "ageless ambiguity" within the sculptures they study. How these statues represent the perfect male form, frozen in time. That's basically the point of ageless ambiguity: They define what it is in sculpture. They redefine it in their life in their current surroundings. Time passes and the search begins again. The wonderful thing about ageless ambiguity is some people can see it as a loving tale of youth, and others can see it as absurb, disgusting, immoral.
Yes, it is a little risque, especially right now, for a romantic storyline between an adult and a 17-year-old. Given everything that's going on in Hollywood right now, I can understand the stance that some, quick-to-assume critics take after watching this. If you haven't lived it, it can't resonate. But for some of us that lived similar stories, it hits home.
One of the most emotional scenes in this film isn't even between Elio and Oliver. It's between Elio and his father, portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg. I don't want to give away the details in this sequence because, to me, they were very important to the story. However, I will say this: The easiest thing a person can do is be honest with themselves and most of us make it very difficult for that to ever happen. We lie to ourselves because it's easier to handle in the long run. You don't want to be different, you want to be just like everyone else. So, you follow the leader and play along. But are you really happy? Who knows.
Honestly, if you don't have any kind of emotional response while watching Call Me By Your Name, you don't have a heart. If you can't feel anything after watching this, you should really take a look at your life and figure out where you went wrong.
I love the multiple language fluencies throughout the film. First, we start in French. Then, switch to English. Then to Italian. Then, back to English. Then German. It's enough to make your head spin but it's handled with class and not elitism.
Armie Hammer constantly surprises me. I really dug him playing both Winklevoss (Winklevii?) twins in The Social Network, but even Lohan can pull that kind of thing off these days. No, Armie Hammer digs in his heels as Oliver. He commits to the ridiculous dance moves in all his dad-bod glory (I don't know if he has what's considered a Dad-Bod or not, but he's the older male in this pairing, so work with me here). I guess what I'm saying is I don't think Hollywood has given him a fair shake as of yet, and more casting directors should just sit their happy asses down and watch Call Me By Your Name before choosing their next leading man.
Timothée Chalamet. Bro. What can I even say about this dude? He's apparently related to everyone and has been in a ton of recent films. Watch this actor, he'll show you why.
The cinematography choices that are made in Call Me By Your Name are done deliberately with an artful hand. The filmmaker in me usually rips on out of focus camera shots, however here it works. I also truly enjoy the long, no-cut, shots that seem to go on forever. I think long shots like those show actors true capabilities. So many rely on cuts, close-ups, and reactionary shots to help their dialogue. Here, the silence can be deafening.
I firmly believe that this year, like most years, the Oscars nominating committee didn't pay enough attention to everything that was in contention. Luca Guadagnino was absolutely robbed of a nomination. The conceptualized idea that Call Me By Your Name will be the first in an installment of a Before Sunrise-like decades-long series blows my mind. It also truly terrifies me because, quite obviously, Call Me By Your Name is set in 1983, and history tells us that the 80's and 90's (along with many other decades) weren't particularly easy for out or closeted gay men.
I guess that's the funny things about having a connection to a film like this: You immediately want to protect the characters as if they were real people.
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