Friday, December 22, 2017

[Review] Call Me By Your Name

After last year's steamy shocker A Bigger Splash, director Luca Guadagnino returns with another sultry outing  -- curiously titled Call Me By Your Name. It's a lush, well-acted relationship drama that is as intimate as it is vast.

Set in the summer of '83 -- somewhere in Northern Italy -- the film revolves around a young man named Elio (Timothée Chalamet) wasting his days away in the countryside. But his monotony breaks when one of his father's (played by the ever-impressive Michael Stuhlbarg) graduate students, Oliver (Armie Hammer), comes to visit -- and Elio slowly develops a crush on him. And you can pretty much tell where this thing is heading. In other words, things are about to get heated.

First off, this film is beautifully shot with its scenic landscapes, rustic architecture, and sun-soaked colors. It moves at a patient, wistful pace (maybe too patient for some) like a lazy afternoon. Narrative-wise, the film is significantly reminiscent of 2013's Blue is the Warmest Color with its carefully observed dynamics and formative themes of sexual awakening, desire, first love, heartbreak, and memories that never quite distinguish. It's all backed by a gorgeously delicate soundtrack from indie singer-songwriter darling Sufjan Stevens. The songs themselves might make you well up.

Newcomer Timothée Chalamet (who also appeared in Lady Bird this year) and Armie Hammer both give tremendously humane performances. But it's definitely Chalamet that emerges as the shining standout in a role that feels so natural, so assured that it doesn't actually quite affect you until the very end -- during the film's staggeringly emotional closing scene that linger and lingers, and lingers...

( 8/10 )

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