Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★★

I went into CALL ME BY YOUR NAME expecting to be disappointed. I had heard the hype, but knew little to nothing about the film except that it was about a relationship between two men. Movies about love often let me down and I was worried that the hype was driven solely by ideology. Within fifteen minutes I was completely entranced. The characters are rich (Timothee Chalamet gives an impressive physical performance and Armie Hammer is James Dean-fresh), the soundtrack is gorgeous, and Mukdeeprom’s cinematography spoke deeply to my aesthetics. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is the antithesis of Antonioni’s “uncommunicable trilogy” and is just as effortlessly cool. Guadagnino is as effective at filling the viewer with admiration as Antonioni is at conveying disillusionment. I’m almost bitter that today’s youth gets to grow up with this film. When I was in high school my favorite coming of age movie was THUMBSUCKER, where poignant revelations about life and experience are delivered through Keanu Reeves. I don’t know where I’d be had I heard Michael Stuhlbarg’s father-of-the-year monologue at the age of seventeen (probably in the same place, but I can still be jealous about the youth who take it to heart today).

Initially I struggled to give the film five stars. Like most people, I was disheartened when the camera panned away from Elie and Oliver’s love-making, and that the camera conservatively doesn’t film below a man’s waist except from behind. As a privileged audience, we expect to see everything while the film hints numerous times that we won’t. The shot where the camera lingers on the Italian countryside after Elie and Oliver ride off-screen tells us that these two are in their own world and sometimes we don’t get to follow them. The audience are observers of an already secretive and intimate relationship; the fact that we don’t witness these two having sex is just too bad. Instead we see these two at their most vulnerable: Elio admitting to Oliver his affection, Oliver internally questioning his actions after they have sex, and, for fuck’s sake, the peach! CALL ME BY YOUR NAME doesn’t set out to shock or make an ideological retort, which is part of the reason why I love it.

Anyway, I gave this film five stars.