Call Me by Your Name ★★★★½

Luca Guadagnino beautifully captures the longing, anxiety, and special joy found in a first love. Call Me By Your Name is an absolutely gorgeous and heartfelt film about an incredibly layered relationship, from the trepidatious courtship where both characters know they have everything to lose, to the nuanced fears, joys, shame, excitement, immaturity, and questions that go along with being in love. Guadagnino opts for a much less bombastic symbolism than in I Am Love and the subtlety really nicely accents the story.

Timothée Chalamet slides into the demanding role with total versatility and ease. It's very impressive how he was able to connect with so many different characters and convey different languages (body language, speech, emotions) based on who he is with. With less context, his interactions with his parents, peers, and Marzia can be interpreted totally differently than after we spend time with him and understand what questions he still asks himself.

Armie Hammer delivers a charm and energy which compliments him very well. I think to watch it twice, the viewer view the events quite differently from his perspective, given what we learn about him. Hammer's confidence is a mask for other complexities in the relationship and I think it's great how mistakes and guilt are shared between the characters, and the film does away with the idea that being older or more experienced makes you any truly wiser. The film doesn't overtly say much about the age difference itself, but it does make us aware of a power dynamic which is built into the relationship and tragically inescapable.

Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Cesar were really special parents as well, and that also was so key to estabishing Elio's sensitivity, intelligence, and vigor. How they play with typical parental conventions is one of the most emotionally satisfying and beautiful parts of this film.

It's a beautiful film that captures really universal feelings. After all who wouldn't want to take a break from life to study architecture and fall in love in the peaceful Italian countryside?

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