It is truly risky to make a movie like Call Me by Your Name, especially in a year of talks of sexual misconduct coming out of Hollywood (as well as politics). Yet for the most part, the movie still seems to work.
If you have not heard of the movie, it tells the story of a seventeen year old boy named Elio (Timothee Chalamet) as he spends one summer in 1983 in his family’s villa in northern Italy. An only child, he spends most of his summer writing his own music, hanging with his girlfriend Marzia (Esther Garrel), swimming, and going out at night. He also will help his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of ancient roman history (I believe), on occasion. All this changes when a college graduate comes in to assist his father. He is Oliver (Armie Hammer), a kind-hearted young man who eventually forms a relationship with young Elio.
It is clear the film will not be for everyone, as Elio and Oliver do have more than one times where they are intimate. It should be noted that the story (based off of a book by Andre Aciman, who also has a cameo) does take place in Italy, where the age of consent is lower than in America.
One thing no one will find controversial is the acting. After a memorable role in this year’s Lady Bird, it is safe to say that Chalamet is clearly making a name for himself, and shows range, poise, and vunerability unseen by most young actors. Hammer of course is affective as Oliver, but the one perhaps most perfectly cast is Stuhlbarg as Elio’s father. His is the type of Professor you would want to have in college, and even some attributes you would want in a father (he was also in this year’s The Shape of Water).]
My issue with the film is how it was presented. Though the director, Luca Guadagnino, does a fine job overall, the audience seems to be thrown into this situation, without exactly having a character we can see a point of view from. I would argue if we had seen this more from Elio’s perspective, the movie would have been a whole lot better.
Parents, you should not be surprised: this is not a movie for kids at all. There is strong sexual material, nudity (including female), and some swearing. The R rating is more than appropriate.
Another thing the movie gets right is the landscape of Italy, a country I have always wanted to visit at least once. If you add in the stellar acting and emotion to the immaculate imagery of the scenes, it is clear why Call Me by Your Name is getting all the praise it deserves.
Overall: Four Stars ****