REVIEW: The Critically Acclaimed ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Gets Lost in its Allure

Being one of the most highly praised movies of the year––and receiving four Oscar nominations in categories including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Adapted Screenplay––I was expecting to understand everybody’s unquestionable love for this film. And while Call Me By Your Name was beautiful on the screen, I’m not sure I believe it was more than that. 

Photo Credit: Daily Public

Based on the acclaimed novel by André Aciman, the movie takes place in 1983 northern Italy where Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) and his family spend their summers. The 17-year-old devotes his days practicing his music, reading, and flirting with Italian girls. As part of his annual custom, Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) invites Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student to work as an intern in assisting him in his Greco-Roman studies.

Sleeping in adjacent rooms, Elio finds himself quickly infatuated by Oliver and the two begin to form a relationship. As they discover their attraction for one another late into the summer, Elio is left to discover the limitations of his first love and where their romance will go when Oliver leaves once summer is over. The film fixates on Elio’s understanding of his sexuality, and what it means to fall in love for the first time.

With the beautiful cinematography and score, it is easy to become caught up with the allure of this movie. This is an Italian summer wonderland –– a complete dream that a first relationship can often feel like. Yet the love between Elio and Oliver is sudden, making it slightly awkward. Maybe this is due to their large age gap and maturity level as characters, or possibly because Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer together lack a real chemistry. 

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Timothée Chalamet, who also has a role in Best Motion Picture nominee Lady Bird, does well in his coming-of-age character, gaining him a Best Actor nomination at this years Academy Awards. While Elio is broadly different from the modern seventeen-year-old, he is easily comprehensive even through his regular silence. Yet placed with Armie Hammer, who is best known for his leading role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E, their relationship loses substance. The adapted screenplay seems to leave out their initial attraction for each other, and when they do finally show it, it feels odd with no development.

The film itself was nice to watch. While not boring or disengaging, it was rather repetitive with its scenes and had no build-up at all into their relationship. Though it is good to be seeing more LGBTQ films gaining audience attraction, especially in recent years with movies such as Carol and last year’s Best Motion Picture Oscar winner Moonlight, these other pictures feel more honest and original in facing the understanding of one’s sexuality. Call Me By Your Name leaves a lot out in its lack of authenticity in their connection. As a film that does not have much dialogue, the relationship of Elio and Oliver has to reconcile, yet it is unsuccessful.

The film is truly a cliché -- not meaning that it is dull or not worth watching, but rather that it has been seen before. Director Luca Guadagnino focuses Elio and Oliver’s love around music instead of words, scenery instead of actions, and symbols instead of intimacy. Though there is truly an artistry to Guadagnino’s choices, unfortunately, he loses touch with the story of their relationship in the extravagance of it all.

Cover Photo Credits: Vulture

 

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