kellie’s review published on Letterboxd:
"is it better to speak or die?"
I got to see Call Me by Your Name at HIFF today, and wow. I first heard about this film in January when I started reading the praise from Sundance over its premiere and i've been waiting, and waiting, and finally after 10 months I can finally add this on my watched list. And let me just say, the anticipation was so worth it because this was one of the best films i've seen in a long time.
First, Timothée Chalamet. This boy is going places. I already knew he was a gifted actor from his other work, and I knew he was going to be great in this, but wow. Just wow. What a perfect Elio, with the way he expresses himself, to the little ticks and facial expressions. An example of this would be, randomly throughout the film, Elio will be walking and randomly start dancing, or he will go up to his father or mother and attack them with affection. Timothèe really added his own twist on Elio to make him feel like a more human protagonist. Even though I read the book before hand, when watching I felt as though I could read Elio's mind, and understand exactly what he was feeling even when the scene was silent. If he doesn't get at least a nom, then I'm not sure what the Academy is doing.
Next, Armie Hammer. Not only did he do absolutely phenomenal in the film, he was at the screening and did a Q&A after and answered my question, which made me fall in love even more. As said with Timothée, his face captures the emotions so beautifully I felt like I was reading his inner thoughts and ideas. There is one scene after Elio and Oliver have sex for the first time, where you can tell that Elio really regrets it, and you watch the emotion fall from Oliver's face, from a look of elation, to confusion, to overall sadness. Since the book is written in Elio's point of view, we really got a skewed version of Oliver in the book, because of Elio's unreliability. But Armie really allows Oliver to be fleshed out, and he brings so much to the character that adds on to who we know from the book. There were some shots where I felt as if I was looking at something from Oliver's point of view and it was such an interesting juxtaposition to the way Elio would look at the same exact thing.
Also in the film were Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Caesar, and Esther Garrel. Esther is one of my favorite actresses right now, and just watching her in this film let me fall in love again and again. Amira Caesar was great also, but Michael Stuhlbarg really stole the show. He brought so much life to Elio's father, who, in the book I thought of as such a 2 dimensional character until the last 40 pages or so. Stuhlbarg's deliverance of the monologue even had the woman behind me who was talking down about the film, (in particular the peach scene), in tears.
The camera work, and cinematography in cmbyn had me honestly speechless. I found myself gasping at some shots because of how beautiful they were. The way Luca Guadagnino is able to capture people and a thousand little details within a single shot blows my mind, and even with the runtime being over 2 hours, I didn't want it to end. There are montages of beautiful shots of nature sprawled throughout the film, and sufjan's music was so perfectly written for this, I couldn't imagine anything else.
If I were to try and critique this film at all and try to find anything wrong with it, I would personally say I wished more of the 'Rome' trip was in the film, or maybe less feet, but in all honesty, this was either one of the best, or the best film I've seen all year. I can not wait for when I am able to see this again and really truly dissect for all of its glory.
Also just to add, when watching this film in theatres, PLEASE do not clap and get up and leave right when the credits start showing, the final scene is the most emotion filled and the one that is truly putting Timothée Chalamet's performance on the board, and I couldn't even listen or watch because of everyone getting up and leaving.