Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★½

AFI Fest 2017: Movie #2

The atmosphere established through the beautiful cinematography and soothing score shift from enticing to tiresome as the film progresses. Guadagnino elevates rather simple moments into dream-like events at the expense of their coherence. Scenes become so fleeting that we lose any sense of the characters, minimal as they were. Even the passage of time grows harder to follow, complicating the budding relationship at the film’s center. I don’t feel connected to these two as a couple because their bond forms in such an emotionally-distanced manner. Multiple characters talk about the love between Oliver and Elio as if it is a rarity, a beautiful thing, but where is that depicted? Their interactions are rarely emotional and only vaguely intellectual; there’s lust and a directionless yearning for connection, but nothing touches the heights of love that are so often described.

As the title suggests, Call Me by Your Name is not a casual romance. The novel depicts an intense, all-consuming bond involving a complete lack of individuality or privacy. It dives deep into the relationship between a boy and a man, and while I take issue with its presentation of that dynamic, I do not deny its intensity. Elio's emotional immaturity is present throughout the film, and it makes the on-screen dynamic between him and Oliver deeply uncomfortable to witness. While its conclusion acknowledges the damaging effects of such an unbalanced relationship, the film largely presents an obviously poor match as something romantic. It strives for the same level of intensity as the novel yet removes the original context that made it work. When Oliver says the titular line, it seems to come out of nowhere.

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