Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino | 132 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois, Vanda Capriolo, Antonio Rimoldi, Elena Bucci, Marco Sgrosso, André Aciman, Peter Spears
Even before ‘Call Me by Your Name’ (2017) even hit the screens, there was already a commotion on the internet about Luca Guadagnino’s film. It all had to do with a tweet from one Chad Felix Greene, who had heard actor Armie Hammer read an excerpt from André Aciman’s novel, on which the film is based. Should they make that book into a movie, he wondered. A 24-year-old man who hooked up with a 17-year-old boy, that was really impossible in Greene’s eyes. Once actor James Woods, who is never shy about a controversial tweet, started getting involved, the bear was loose. In his retweet, Woods wrote: ‘And so our norms and values are further gnawed. #NAMBLA’, where that abbreviation stands for an American pedo association. Hammer immediately fired back by pointing out to Woods that, as a 60-year-old, he once dated a girl who could have been his grandchild, and got support from colleague Amber Tamblyn, who added some extra fuel to the fire by arranging her own run-in with Woods. to fetch. The Twitter storm continued to fester for weeks. Guadagnino said he regretted that people had already formed an opinion without having seen the film.
A wrong one, too, because ‘Call Me By Your Name’ has nothing to do with pedophilia, but above all with unconditional love and budding sexuality. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is a seventeen-year-old American boy who lives with his parents in the Italian countryside. In the summer of 1983, his father Samuel (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of archeology, invites 24-year-old student Oliver (Armie Hammer) to help him with his work. The introverted worrier Elio seems to have little in common with the exuberant and carefree newcomer. He prefers to read books, play the piano or take a dip in the lake near his house. But under his skin, his hormones are rampant, and it all has to do with Oliver. He doesn’t know what to do with his feelings, is ashamed of them and, as a distraction, he hooks up with a girl from the village (Esther Garrel), but with his head, heart and hormones he is with Oliver. When the two finally spend more time together, Elio gathers up his courage and gently hints that he feels more for Oliver. Although he tells him in a friendly tone that he shouldn’t do anything about it, the blood still creeps where it can’t go. True love cannot be stopped.
‘Call Me by Your Name’ is an ode to love. In a languid, dreamy atmosphere and ditto tempo, the viewer is drawn into the rich emotional world of the young Elio. The tension mainly takes place under the skin; in the picture we initially see mainly the beckoning glances, careful touches and hesitant attempts at overtures. Guadagnino mainly uses the first quarter of his film to set the right tone and atmosphere; in sunlight-drenched images of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom we see the men swimming, dancing, cycling and loitering. All at a slow, languid pace, as a prelude to the moment when the high word is finally out for Elio. Because it is almost immediately clear that a sexual tension is brewing between Elio and Oliver. Because we as viewers look exclusively from Elio’s point of view, the character Oliver remains a bit flatter. This gives Chalamet much more room to shine than Hammer, and the talented actor seizes the opportunity with both hands. Unlike many other movies with a similar theme, the struggle Elio experiences comes purely from within himself; his parents don’t get in his way and accept his quest for love and his sexuality. In a heartwarming and inspiring scene between Elio and his father, played sublimely by Michael Stuhlbarg, it becomes clear that Elio’s parents mainly encourage him to feel, and to respond to his feelings. This father-to-son conversation is the undisputedly moving climax of the film and includes wisdom that everyone can learn from.
Besides strong acting and a sultry summer atmosphere, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ can also boast of Guadagnino’s pleasant directing style, who needs little frills to get to the heart of his story. He indulges in the symbolism – a daring scene starring a pitted overripe peach is perhaps a bit too much of a good thing – but otherwise leaves it to his actors to let the drama unfold, and they know how to do that. along. Chalamet in particular – who at 22 is the fourth youngest actor to be nominated for the Oscar for best actor – is convincing on all fronts and is emerging as a man to keep an eye on. Guadagnino is averse to gooey melodrama; he prefers to register in a sober way how Elio slowly but surely gives in to his feelings and learns to accept them; they are there and they may be there. Seen in that light, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ has a beautiful universal message about love, desire, unconditional friendships, tolerance and the freedom to be who you want to be.