Esteban Gonzalez’s review published on Letterboxd:
¨Just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it.¨
My introduction to the work of Italian director Luca Guadagnino wasn't as moving for me as it seems to have been for almost everyone else. As much as I wanted to enjoy this film, I couldn't help but feel that there was nothing truly special about the relationship between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) a 17 year old boy who is spending the summer with his parents at an Italian villa reading, writing, and transcribing classical music and Oliver (Armie Hammer) an American college graduate working as an intern for Elio's father during the summer, while working on his doctorate. Upon my first viewing I couldn't find how their attraction began or what was so unique about their relationship. At first Elio seems resentful that this man is occupying his room and he isn't exactly a fan of his manners. Oliver on the other hand seems to be liked by everyone in town. Sure he is handsome, but I didn't find him as charming as he was presented in the film. Both men are very educated and that is what they find in common, but their relationship never felt unique or romantic. The film does succeed in exploring Elio's sexuality and innocence. Despite his knowledge, he's very inexperienced when it comes to sex and love. It also explores the theme of speaking out for love and not hiding your feelings, universal themes that may seem to have found a connection with audiences around the globe. I however felt the pacing of the film drag at times and never felt moved by the love these two men felt for each other. I think Moonlight managed this feat better a year ago.
Call Me By Your Name is another entry in the coming of age genre, but with a much more sophisticated camera work than most other films. Guadagnino seems to be in love with the natural environment of northern Italy and he takes advantage of the setting. However I think too much time is spent in making sure the film looks good and it would've benefited more if it focused on the relationship between Elio and Oliver. It felt at times as Oliver was using Elio for his own personal pleasure, although I know that wasn't the case. He was actually dealing with the guilt of Elio's young age and how his own family would accept his love. Elio on the other hand was fortunate to have accepting and loving parents. There is a monologue near the end of the film that Michael Stuhlbarg (who plays Elio's father) gives to his son that is probably the way every young adolescent wishes their parents would be about accepting their loved one. It is a touching moment in the movie, although I've also heard some complaints about it for being too over the top. It was probably my favorite scene in the film and the only moment I felt rang true and authentic. I don't know why I never felt that connection between Elio and Oliver, or what really made Oliver so special. I just didn't feel the love between them.
Timothée Chalamet delivers a fine performance, but we've seen him play this sort of intellectual young character before. He has a strong scene at the end of the film, but I wouldn't consider his performance as one of the best of the year. Armie Hammer's character is the one I had trouble accepting in this film and found it difficult to believe he was as charming as the film set him out to be. I was more charmed by the beauty of Italy and its natural landscape. The cinematography was beautiful (although hedonistic at times) and I loved the original song ¨Mystery of Love¨ performed by Sufjan Stevens which was very touching. The adapted screenplay by James Ivory garnered him an Oscar win. Call Me By Your Name has some touching moments, and it manages to explore the theme of love and the limited time we have to explore it, especially when we take so long to speak up about our feelings. The film finishes very strong, it was just the opening and middle sections I struggled with. I can understand how the film was moving for so many people, I just wasn't one of them.