Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★

It would be easy to dismiss how daring "Call Me by Your Name" actually is, yes even in 2017 when gay relationships are more accepted than they probably ever have been. There are still plenty of people in the world who would not give a film about the budding sexual and emotional relationship of two young men a chance. This film has some serious balls for treating the subject so delicately and yet so erotically.

Make that two sets of balls, one owned by Timothee Chalamet and the other by Armie Hammer, who play the lovers. Chalamet gives one of the most understated but impressive performances of the year as the younger of the two who is experiencing an infatuation comprised of equal parts love and lust for what we suspect is the first time. Hammer is the object of his obsession, a studly, bronzed student who is staying in Italy for the summer and working for Chalamet's professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg). The film is languid and sun drenched, creating visually what a summer spent lounging in the Italian countryside must feel like. Both of the principal actors have a great deal of screen time, but the film easily belongs to Chalamet, who in the course of one summer experiences more reciprocal love and inevitable heartbreak than many people experience over the course of their entire lives.

The best scene in the film comes late into its running time, and it's comprised of a soliloquy delivered by Stuhlbarg in which he attempts to help his son deal with the pain he is feeling over an ended romance and also hints that romantic relationships between men, even men who identify as primarily straight, are possibly more common than anyone realizes, or would be if men felt that they were allowed to have them. It's one of the best scenes I saw in a movie this year.

Grade: A

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