Entertainment, Film

Review: Call Me By Your Name

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By Pierangelly Del Rio

Leading the Independent Spirit Awards nominations and, consequently, becoming the 2017 Oscars’ frontrunner, Call Me By Your Name is on its way to being one of the most significant movies of the year.

The film explores the blossoming relationship and eventual romance between seventeen-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet), the precocious, introverted son of an archeology professor and Oliver (Armie Hammer) an American academic who moves to Elio’s home under the tutelage of his father. Set over the summer of 1983, in a village in Northern Italy, the story unfolds during the six weeks of Oliver’s stay. With each passing day, a strong connection awakes between the two, which goes beyond their mutual interest for music and Jewish heritage.

For those who are familiar with André Aciman’s novel, from which the film is based on, it is worth saying director Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation is faithful to the source material and adapts the story beautifully, accompanying it with impressive visuals of the Italian countryside and a powerful musical score. The screenplay runs for two hours an a little more, something which could come across as unappealing. However, every minute of the film is used wisely and serves to showcase the all-engulfing experience of falling in love for the first time with accuracy and almost naturalistic precision.

Typical tropes of the romantic comedy or dramas as notoriously absent, such as awkward flirting and love at first sight, being replaced by powerful dialogue and subtle interactions.

This makes Call Me By Your Name a refreshing romantic story, yet, it is also unlike other LGBT productions. It was not conceived merely for the sake of representation on the big screen or a medium to explore the socio-political and cultural landscape that surrounds and affects the members of the community. And although Elio explores his sexuality and internalised homophobia is implied, these factors are never made a deep source of conflict, nor do other characters frown upon Elio’s attraction to Oliver. With this said, it was refreshing as a viewer to get to focus on the dynamics between them.

The roles are wonderfully performed by Chalamet and Hammer respectively. Both have a great chemistry and managed to convey the bond between their characters. The physically combustible attraction is palpable, as seen in the trailer and one of the most powerful scenes when Oliver asks Elio to call him by his name.

Despite this being a story about desire, it has been criticised by its conservative attitude towards the sex scenes, much more explicit in the novel, Guadagnino’s adaptation is effective in conveying a deep atmosphere of eroticism.

Everything is carefully constructed and Call Me By Your Name and it registers prominently, from Elio’s conversations with his father’s, to the Italian Summer, Sufjan Stevens musical score and the credits scenes, which will haunt audiences long after they’re finished.

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Pierangelly Del Rio

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