Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet Call Me By Your Name tells the story of Elio (Chalamet) a young man living with his parents in Northern Italy who one Summer in the 1980’s meets someone who changes his life.
Call Me By Your Name opens with Elio and his friend Marzia discussing a “usurper” coming to Elio’s home. We learn that it is his father’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) latest assistant Oliver (Hammer) who has come to help with various duties. He has come to stay with the family for six weeks, and Elio is not too impressed with this American taking up his room for so long. During the first few days, Oliver impresses the family in various ways with his impressive knowledge, his charm, and his American mannerisms.
As the days go by Oliver continues to leave impressions where he goes, he almost immediately ingratiates himself with the locals and becomes quite the icon with all the young women. Elio is finding all of this quite flummoxing as he believes Oliver seems confident to the point of arrogance and his presence just seems to rub Elio up the wrong way. Elio just can’t seem to get Oliver out of his thoughts; he tries to distract himself with his friends, a possible relationship with Marzia, unfortunately, nothing works.
It is this wonderfully naive portrayal of affection by relative newcomer Timothée Chalamet that makes Call Me By Your Name one of the most natural and convincing love stories in recent history. Chalamet is a fantastic leading man playing a character who has reached a point in his life that everyone can empathise with and Hammer is a wonderful foil. The reason is that Oliver in many ways is a mentor to Elio, he’s Jewish like Elio, a very smart individual and he seemingly knows who he is and what he wants out of life, and that is what Elio (a young man on the cusp of manhood) yearns for. With both Chalamet and Hammer on the top of their respective games, the journey of their relationship and Elio’s personal journey is engrossing, and this is compounded by an incredibly emotive score and breathtaking cinematography.
Whimsy and wonder are the words of the day when you hear the music of Call Me By Your Name, it brings tears to your eyes when you see Oliver and Elio traverse the ever rocky road of love and maybe find each other at a bypass and this music is permeating throughout the scene piercing it and elevating the already award-worthy performances. Every time the score kicked in I took note because it was just so powerful and moving and stayed with me after I left the cinema. Not to be left in the lurch the supporting cast of Call Me By Your Name are also as impressive with their performances, in particular, Mr. Perlman (Stuhlbarg) who brings down the house with one incredible heart to heart with his son.
Director Luca Guadagnino should also be celebrated for his work on this film because this is a gorgeous movie. From the scenery of Northern Italy which is dripping with mood and ambiance to the intimate scenes within the Perlman household, Guadagnino paints a lavish and sensual picture for this story to take place in.
Call Me By Your Name excels as a love story because it shows us all the many facets of what makes love so wonderful, magical, and devastating and it excels as a film because it’s the perfect culmination of talent and passion. I’ll leave you with a question asked within the film,”Is it better to speak, or to die”? I think it’s better to speak.