'Call Me by Your Name' - Northern Italy, romance and peaches [REVIEW]

Call me by Your Name

Peaches take on a whole new meaning after this one.

Nominated for Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Original Song at the Academy Awards this year, Call Me by Your Name is a quiet and bold love story from director Luca Guadagnino (and it’s one that’s probably going to upset the more conservative members of your family).

Call Me by Your Name is a part coming-of-age and part romance story that takes place over one summer in Northern Italy.

That's where Elio (Timothée Chalamet) — a 17-year-old musician— lives with his family. Elio spends his days being somewhat bored, as he hangs out with a group of friends, goes swimming and reads books.

Elio’s father, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg), is a professor in architecture. Every summer, the Perlman family invites a graduate student out to live with them so that they can experience the culture and work alongside an expert in the field. This year, the honor goes to a 30-something (I’m guessing, at least) Jewish-American named Oliver (Armie Hammer).

At first, Elio and Oliver don’t particularly pay each other much mind. Despite sharing a bathroom, they both relatively keep to themselves as Elio is constantly tied up with his girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel) and Oliver is busy taking in all that Italy has to offer.

However, over the coming weeks and months, the two eventually and circumstantially (or maybe not?) find themselves spending more and more time with one another. What starts as mere friendship eventually grows into feelings, attraction and a romantic relationship.

credit: YouTube

Which complicates everything for several reasons. Yes, there’s the age difference, which brings the whole coming-of-age element into the film, as Elio is still discovering who he is as a person (James Woods can screw off). This is also the first time that either of them has ever publicly been in a homosexual relationship — which has certain drawbacks and different hesitations for each of them.

Yet, as much as they might try to fight it, the connection between the two of them is undeniable. Despite Oliver having to leave when summer ends, the time that the two do get to spend together means much more than they ever would have expected.

On the most simple level, Call Me by Your Name is a beautiful looking film that’s going to make you fall in love with the Italian countryside. The way that Guadagnino and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom capture the landscape and the culture, will likely make the viewer want to pack up all their things and catch the next plane to Europe (only to then realize, at least in my case, they’ll never be able to afford a house like the one in the film and that this was a bad idea).

But on a deeper level, Call Me by Your Name is a socially relevant and important film with a delicate and beautiful romance at the heart of it. What makes Call Me by Your Name so great is how they rarely call attention to the nature of the relationship itself. The point of this film is not to create an Oscar-bait (well, maybe a little) piece about the struggle it takes for one to realize they are gay and then come out to the people around them, only to be met with opposition and scrutiny. Instead, it’s about two people who have a genuine connection with each other, and it really makes no difference that it’s two guys rather than a guy and a girl.

credit: YouTube

That’s important for a couple of different reasons. One, we’re reaching a point in culture (or at least cinema culture) where this is becoming more normal and we don’t need to draw attention to it. Second, the relationship we see build between Elio and Oliver is so well-defined and drawn-out, that it’s nearly impossible not to feel something for these two.

This is due, in part, to the strong performances that are given by both of the two leads. Timothée Chalamet, who has made his breakout into Hollywood this year between this and Lady Bird, gives the performance of a lifetime. It’s one that’s vulnerable — but vulnerable in a teenage angsty kind of way. This means that he’s calm and collected for most of the movie, until we get those rare scenes when we see him break down — which Chalamet completely sells.

Hammer deserves credit as well. At the start of the movie, his character is rather arrogant and cocky — meaning Hammer is more or less playing an exaggerated version of himself, or at least similar to other characters we’ve seen him play. Yet, as the film continues, we also see him break down more and more into new emotional territory until we eventually arrive at the unforgettable finale.

Call Me by Your Name
credit: YouTube

Speaking of unforgettable, let’s mention Michael Stuhlbarg as well (since apparently, the Academy is the only one who actually can forget him). Stuhlbarg has appeared in just about everything this year, from The Shape of Water to Fargo, but his role in Call Me by Your Name just might be his best work to date. His character could have easily becoming a tired cliché of an unsupportive parent, but instead, they take that trope and flip it on its head to be something else completely. This leads to what was my favorite scene in the entire film — a monologue Stuhlbarg delivers towards the very end of the film that is nothing short of beautiful.

Call Me by Your Name is a film that’s likely going to mean a lot to many different people. And it totally should. While the film was a little long and slowly paced for my exact taste (cut out about 15 minutes and I’d be singing a different tune), there’s a lot to love here. Guadagnino wisely decides to throw certain filmmaking aspects out the window. There’s no love triangle at play, no great drama that derives out of nowhere, no added conflict in places it shouldn’t be. It’s simply about two people from different walks of life, realizing they have more in common than they originally thought. Those two people just so happen to be males, and all the better for it.

Call Me by Your Name is a huge step forward for the industry and country in general. And it’s got a killer soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens to boot.

As far as the peach scene goes, you're just going to have to watch the movie to be in on the joke. That being said, brace yourself, because it's gonna provide repressed American Pie memories that you definitely aren't going to see coming (which is why we kind of love it).

Watch the trailer for Call Me by Your Name here, and let us know what you thought of the film in the comments below!

Northern Italy, romance and peaches: 'Call Me by Your Name' review
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