Call Me By Your Name: a review

I have been curious about this film for a few weeks now. It was nominated for some Golden Globe awards and was being tweeted about by Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast. I finally had a chance to see it with my gbf and 14 y o daughter. My friend had seen it a few weeks ago but expressed interest in seeing it again. A quick survey of my household found my youngest daughter to be the only one also interested in seeing this at the theatre, so we made a wonderfully enjoyable evening of it.

 

 

This film was a love story between a 17 year old boy, Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and his father’s summer graduate student, Oliver (Armie Hammer). It was set in Northern Italy during the early 80’s. This film had a very slow pace, evoking the lazy summer days of a privileged youth. We watched, mesmerized as complex relationships unfolded. Beyond learning about the relationships on screen, there was not much more to the plot. This was not a film for anyone looking for dramatic action or suspense. It was simply a window to the past depicting lives that are rarely seen onscreen. In that regard, it reminded me of last year’s Oscar winner for best picture, Moonlight, which I enjoyed as well. Like that film though, I recognize that it is not for everyone.

There were some problematic elements with this story. Armie Hammer seemed a bit old to play Oliver, who was supposed to be in his mid 20’s. That Elio was attracted to Oliver was not impossible to conceive. That their friendship blossomed into love could be very problematic in view of the age difference. Without getting too spoilery, I think those problems were overcome with subtle grace in the writing, directing, cinematography and performances (especially Chalamet). Context is key and for director Luca Guadagnino this film is a triumph with no hint of predation.

There is beauty in a film that is more about showing rather than telling, making it a perfect selection for a night out at the cinema. If this were viewed by me at home, where it is hard to resist the ever present temptation of double screen surfing while watching, the subtle beauty would likely be missed. I really have to curb this terrible distracting habit. I also really enjoyed the way Elio and his friends and family spoke to each other in 2 or more languages during most conversations. I grew up in a polyglottic family and didn’t appreciate how special it was. Sadly I am a living example of “if you don’t use it you lose it.”

All of us really enjoyed this film. I was relieved that my daughter didn’t find it too slow. My, how times have changed. She didn’t bat an eye when she first saw the trailer and was not embarrassed to see it with her mom. Whereas 35 years ago, my mother was scandalized every time she found me watching Ginger on Gilligan’s Island.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Pierre Bédard
    Jan 22, 2018 @ 16:26:35

    Doug n I saw it at the Bytowne here in Ottawa. We found it too slow (i nearly fell asleep + caught myself wishing for a remote with a fast forward button). Not once did I believe the 2 main characters were attracted to each other. Still, glad I saw it.

    Mother scandalized by Ginger = 😂

    Reply

    • dvdiva
      Jan 22, 2018 @ 22:23:02

      I can understand finding it slow. I didn’t mind. But I totally bought that Elio was enamoured with Oliver. His animosity toward Oliver and his American mannerisms at the beginning was too much to be anything other than a cover for his attraction and a projection of his discomfort with it. When Oliver massaged him at the volleyball scene, that was a tell IMO. They had to be circumspect so, I bought the attraction with that in mind.

      Reply

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