STARS: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Esther Garrel
DIRECTOR: Luca Guadagnino
Northern Italy. Music...wine and...sex! I'm on board!
Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is a precocious 17 year-old music prodigy, staying with his parents for the summer at their posh Italian villa. He kinda likes a local girl, Marzia (Esther Garrel), and they end up having some naked fun together. But then a bit older American scholar working on his doctorate arrives to intern with Elio's father, the archaeology professor (Michael Stuhlbarg). At first, Elio is somewhat passively/aggressive hostile toward Oliver (Armie Hammer). But as they spend time together, biking around and playfully feeling each other out (no, what you're thinking of comes later), a mutual attraction develops. It's pretty clear the door to Elio's heart swings both ways. Over the course of the summer, Elio discovers that he has indeed found his first love.
Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful film on many levels. The cinematography, the achingly poignant music score, but most of all the expressiveness and depth of emotion that young Timothee Chalamet is capable of displaying. (He's earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.) There is "one of those scenes" near the end--a conversation between Elio and his father--that I think is destined to be shown in college acting classes as a way of inspiring students to be all that they can be.
There is nothing terribly graphic in Call Me By Your Name, other than some female breasts (go figure), though the make-out scenes between Chalamet and Armie Hammer--two purportedly straight actors?-- are extremely convincing, and I could have done with fewer of them. There is one scene with a juicy peach that you will either find cringe-worthy or hilarious, depending on how much you liked the warm apple pie bit from American Pie!
Grade: A -
I found it interesting that not one male—gay or straight—was in the audience when I went to see this painfully long, painfully self indulgent film. I realize director Luca Guadagnino is trying to be sensitive about a somewhat touchy (and I don't mean touchy-feely) subject. But the lengths he goes to not offend any possible homophobes—who wouldn't be caught dead seeing this film—seems like overkill. The developing 'friendship' between the 24 year-old student and his mentor's 17-year-old son takes forever. (In reel time, at least an hour and a half in a movie that last for two hours and twelve minutes!)
If I had to say something positive about this languid love story it would be to praise the score which almost feels like an actual character in the movie. Interestingly enough, no scorer is listed in the credits. Just a music consultant, a music coordinator and a music supervisor. Hmmmm...
I wish I had liked Call Me By Your Name more.(That title makes absolutely no sense, by the way.) But to sound perfectly cynical, I think the only reason it got a Best Picture nod from The Academy was to be 'politically correct.' (Who wants the gay community picketing outside the Kodak Theater on th?) Not to take away from the Best Actor nomination Timothée Chalamat received which he richly deserves. Still, it ain't no Brokeback Mountain.