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Call Me By Your Name [2017] Review : A love story for the ages

Oliver: Is there anything you don’t know?
Elio: I know nothing, Oliver.
Oliver: Well, you seem to know more than anyone else around here.
Elio: Well, if you only knew how little I really know about the things that matter.
Oliver: What “things that matter?”
[long pause]
Elio: You know what things.
Oliver: Why are you telling me this?
Elio: Because I thought you should know.

And this is how began one of the finest love stories that I have ever seen in a film. Before I begin this review, let me tell you this. Call Me By Your Name is my best film of 2017. Call Me By Your Name is probably the most sensual movie I have ever seen. It’s not erotic, but it’s sensual. It won’t hit you in the gut with realizations or plot twists, but it caresses you, like a warm hug. The film, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Andre Aciman, is like a wonderfully painted canvas, with elegant strokes that have formed this exquisite masterpiece from Luca Guadagnino. Call Me By Your Name is the third part in Guadagnino’s informal Desire Trilogy after I am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015).

 

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The story is set somewhere in Northern Italy where 17-year-old Elio Perlman lives with his parents. Oliver, an American student, comes to intern and help out Mr Perlman, who is a professor of archaeology, with his academic work and lives with the family for the duration of his stay. Although Elio dislikes Oliver’s laidback attitude and the fact he says “later” to bid adieu instead of traditional “good bye”, he soon finds himself helplessly attracted by the charm of Oliver after spending time with him.

“Nature has cunning ways to find our weakest spot”

Call Me By Your Name shows us how Elio gets found out by nature in the form of Oliver and how he deals with it. A lovely coming of age story of how a teenager deals with the confusion of his sexual desires where on one end he is making out and having sex with his girlfriend but on the other hand he is smelling and wrapping his head with the clothes of a guy. Elio and Oliver’s romance is one for the ages, so innocent and so honest like nothing I’ve seen before. There’s a touch of innocence and simplicity in everything they did, whether it’s giving a cold shoulder to each other or kissing for the first time.

 

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Call Me By Your Name is a film that carries an intellectual vibe throughout. No, not in the sense how you need to be a hardcore cinephile to get it. But it deals with a family who is intellectually way above the average family, where the 17-year-old son is a hardcore bibliophile and can tweak classical pieces of Bach, the entire family can speak multiple languages. They have musical sessions and academic and political discussions over lunch and dinner and almost all of the characters shown are culture-driven, you could say. I felt this was a very noticeable aspect of the film.

From the magnificent North Italian setting to those two Sufjan Stevens songs, Call Me By Your Name gets everything right. Everything felt genuine, believable and real. The cinematography from Sayombhu Mukdeepom is beautiful, capturing the colourful and vibrant Italy so well. The direction from Guadagnino is top notch and he’s possibly made one of the finest films of the century so far.

Timothee Chalamet has been the find of the year and what a year he’s been having. The 21-year-old has starred in four movies this year, three of them being critically acclaimed, Call Me By Your Name, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird and Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, alongside Christian Bale. His other film this year was Hot Summer Nights, premiering at South By Southwest Festival earlier this year, and scheduled for a 2018 release. Chalamet will also star in “A Rainy Day in New York”, Woody Allen’s next directorial venture. He does a fantastic job portraying Elio, expressing all the nuances, the innocence and the intellectualism in the character. Armie Hammer produces a brilliant performance for his role of Oliver.

We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!

This is what Michael Stuhlbarg’s Mr Perlman says to Elio during a memorable monologue in the film, which won’t leave my mind that easily. Stuhlbarg produces an exemplary performance, bested only by his other role as a professor in the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man, although he was a supporting character here. Esther Garrel and Amira Cesar did justice to their supporting roles as well.

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When I saw the trailer for Call Me By Your Name earlier this year, it immediately became my most awaited film of the year. Now that I’ve seen it, I can gladly say the film was everything I had thought it would be, and a bit more. I would place my bet on this film to win the Best Picture award at next year’s Academy Awards.

 

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About the author

Tuhin Das

An aspiring programmer by passion, Tuhin is a serial procrastinator and is occupied with three M’s - Movies, Music and Manchester United. He is obsessed with the use of colour in films, something he pours out more often than not on his Facebook page.

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