Review: ‘Call Me by Your Name’

The perfect summer getaway from the very long Montana winter

Timothée Chalamet as Elio. Photo: IMDb.

After hearing the buzz about the coming-of-age film Call Me by Your Name, I decided to check the book that inspired the making of the movie while I waited for the motion picture to be out. I started to read the novel by American writer André Aciman in the hopes it would help me understand the reason the movie was already gathering so many fans. Beautifully written and extremely sensual, the story is told from Elio’s perspective as he recalls the events of the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy. The arrival of Oliver, an American student who assisting Elio’s father with academic paperwork for the Summer, brings into Elio’s life the bittersweet torment of a first love. In the book, the narrator’s over-thinking leaves almost no room for dialogue.

“Today, the pain, the stoking, the thrill of someone new, the promise of so much bliss hovering a fingertip away, the fumbling around people I might misread and don’t want to lose and must second-guess at every turn, the desperate cunning I bring to everyone I want and crave to be wanted by, the screens I put up as though between me and the world there were not just one but layers of rice-paper sliding doors, the urge to scramble and unscramble what was never really coded in the first place-all these started the summer Oliver came into our house.”

When I finished the novel, I came to two conclusions: I would never see a peach in the same way again, and the filmmakers sure had a tough job taking a story with so much inner dialogue and turning it into a motion picture. After watching the film, I was glad to see that the bodies; the long, fixed stares; the seasons; the literature; and the music were able to portray so well that general feeling of being obsessed with someone else. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name approaches the mystery of love with the right amount of sensibility and visual poetry.

The way Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Elio (Timothée Chalamet) approach their complicated mutual attraction is like Summer: Slow, for the most part warm, with lingering days filled with anticipation, and that certainty the heat will soon depart. Timothée, see also the nihilistic teenager in Lady Bird, gives viewers the unpredictable teenager-in-love. Falling in love is an emotional upheaval at any age, but for Elio, things seem to be more difficult to manage. Is it better to speak or to die?

In the meantime, the viewer is immersed in the small, but pretty city of Crema, while ballads from the eighties and classical music sometimes seem to speak for the characters. The gradual construction of Elio’s and Oliver’s relationship evolves as they recognize themselves in each other. The perfect summer getaway from the very long Montana winter, Call Me by Your Name brings warmth, passion, and nature to the screen with a touch of sensibility that speaks with no words.

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay: Luca Guadagnino, James Ivory, Walter Fasano

Genre: Drama/Romance

Running Time: 2h 12m

About the Author

A 25-year-old Brazilian getting lost in the Big Sky. I like movies, books, chicken wings, and unfinished stories.