WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Summer of 1983, Northern Italy. An American-Italian is enamored by an American student who comes to study and live with his family. Together they share an unforgettable summer full of music, food, and romance that will forever change them.
What we thought:
It’s summer somewhere in northern Italy. The branches of the fruit trees are bent by the weight of their seasonal sweet treats. Ripe for the picking.
Icy mountain streams and the shade of giant trees offer escape from the heat. The smell of rosemary drifts on the back of the warm breeze, gently tucking at his sweat stained shirt. His short swimsuit clinging to his muscular sun kissed legs.
If summer is all of this, if summer is love…then surely winter is its icy end.
Call Me by Your Name, based on the novel with the same name by André Aciman, draws on all the senses to explore the reality that love is as painful as it is beautiful. It takes as much as it gives.
This coming-of-age drama, directed by Luca Guadagnino, is a graceful love letter to experiencing your first true yearning to give yourself completely to someone else.
It explores through delicate imagery the frailness of romance and the uncontrollable hunger of lust. Its greatest success sits in the way it closely examines how even the smallest of actions, like the foot of a lover brushing up against your own, can bring with it an avalanche of pleasure and delight. Also, how their silence can drive you to the edge of sanity, ready to dive into the depths of insanity.
Guadagnino taps into Italy’s richest veins to bring to life the electrifying chemistry that sparks a love affair between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer). It’s a story not told through the visors of sexuality, but rather just a telling of two people who find love when their paths unexpectedly cross.
Chalamet delivers a flawless performance and so eloquently captures the angst, confusion and pure delight of finding someone else that you truly desire with every fibre of your being. Hammer’s breezy carefreeness in everything that he does, from his dance moves to the way his clothing rests against his body, is what makes him the ultimate object of desire. Like ancient statues of muscular gods. You can’t help but see in him your own Oliver and yearn to once again experience first love.
Both actors expertly play their part in the ping-pong game of exploring a new relationship. They carry with them the caution and uncertainness of speaking out about what they are feeling in the fear of being rejected and ask: “Is it better to speak or die?”
But every season must come to an end. Will the memories of that summer in 1983 fade into oblivion or will it hauntingly stick around until the very end? If it does, was it worth it? As Michael Stuhlbarg’s character, Mr. Perlman, puts it: “How you live your life is your business, just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it.”
I’m thankful for films like Call Me by Your Name for reminding us that love, despite its cutthroat demands, is worth us embracing it with total abandonment. Because, even if it’s just for a brief moment, we all deserve to love and be loved.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: