Friday, December 15, 2017
Call Me by Your Name
The story is set in 1983 somewhere in northern Italy. Talented 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) leisurely spends his sun-kissed summer with his books and music in his family's villa with his father Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg), an American professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother Annella (Amira Casar), an Italian translator. The harmonic rhythm is disrupted when the 24-year-old American graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives at the villa for a six-week retreat to help with Mr. Perlman's research. The handsome Oliver not only takes over Elio's bedroom, but also occupies Elio's young heart—Oliver instantly becomes Elio's object of affection.
Despite being extremely gifted in music and literature, Elio is quite a novice in the game of courting. Like every teenager, he yearns for the attention yet he is insecure about himself. On the other hand, Oliver is confident with playing with Elio just as he is confident with his academic work. The tango between the two beautifully plays out under the warm sun and idle town where pretty much everyone has gone on holiday.
Being a family of intellectuals, Elio's parents are not blind to what is going on around the villa and under the dining table. They are both close enough to offer Elio the most earnest advices and comfort any teenager can get and distant enough for Elio to follow his own emotional compass. Regardless of the outcome, Elio's first romantic journey forever leaves a print in his heart.
The film is a perfect piece of art in every aspect. It is scripted by veteran writer-director James Ivory based on André Aciman's novel that provides some of the best lines for Elio's amiable and wise father. Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's cinematography perfectly captures characters' moods and the charm of the picturesque location. It invites you to pack your bags and spend a summer with these beautiful and smart people. The director Luca Guadagnino utilizes all the talents and masterfully crafts a classic. Every scene of the film appears to be succulent like the ripe fruits on the tree or besides Elio's bed. Even the film's pace perfectly matches that of life in Italy's countryside. He never rushes and allows us to be captivated by his arresting characters. He poetically paints the beauty of life on the big screen.
But none of these would work without the outstanding performance by a terrific ensemble cast, especially the mesmerizing Timothée Chalamet who deserves an Academy-Award nomination. His every move and expression reveals the vulnerable and impetuous nature of a sensitive teenager. The final long shot of him tearing up in silence speaks volume and is profoundly touching.
"Call Me by Your Name" offers us a perfect nostalgic escape from the dreadful reality and brings us back to the sensual first love experience and to an alluring Italy. It is the best film of the year, period.