Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★

A perfect distillation of Luca Guadagnino’s strengths. And it's interesting that this is his most buzzy film to date since it's also his most restrained work. For the first third or so I was waiting for it to pick up because it's almost deceptively casual and low-key, gradually sneaks up on you and hits you. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer have very good chemistry but I'd hesitate to call this a "great love story", because it's so rooted in the former's perspective. Notice how we stay with Chalamet immediately before/after Hammer enters/exits-- the film never forks into a two-hander the way that CAROL, for instance, does. Which makes sense because it is a coming of age story more than anything, about how Oliver's ("the usurper" as Elio rightfully calls him in the film's first line of dialogue) entrance jolts Elio, and their time together teaches him a lot about himself, which is why 1.) we never really learn how this has affected Oliver (although Hammer's performance gives us an idea) and 2.) the film never posits that these two are meant to be with each other forever, or even for long. The penultimate monologue from Stuhlbarg is delivered beautifully by him but it registers mostly because it's edited so powerfully. Cuts to Chalamet a few times-- his blank, protective expression gradually softens as he listens. And the final scene of course caps a really incredible lead performance from Chalamet, that the film really wouldn't work without (as great as it is on every other front). Also really incredible cinematography here that doesn't draw attention to itself and serves the film beautifully. And the Sufjan Stevens songs are v good although I could've done without the first one, which I found distracting in context. Just a really nice movie.