Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★★

Can I kiss you? Oliver asks softly, after waiting all day to meet Elio in the dead of night. Yes, please. Elio wistfully replies, just before lunging into Oliver's pursing lips. It's these many lingering moments of quiet solidarity that make Call Me By Your Name something so different from other romances- it finds its beauty in subtlety (or sometimes lack thereof).

The best romances take their time with love. Films like Moonlight and North Sea Texas don't start outright with their tales of unconventional love, but rather take their time in building the characters and the worlds they inhabit so that we may get a better understanding of the surroundings we find ourselves in. Elio has spent most of his summer reading literature, transcribing music, and hanging out with his girl friends (not girlfriends, mind you). He harbors some mild friendly fondness for Oliver (played to perfection by Armie Hammer) when he arrives on the scene, but he continuously denies the feelings he has harbored and bottled up inside. There's a kind of unnamed pride that remains in him, perhaps, that causes him to reject his true feelings-

The rustic Italian countryside is a gorgeous canvas on which director Luca Guadagnino can bring André Aciman's novel to life. Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom reportedly only used one lens to shoot the entire movie, weaving a personal sense of progressive familiarity that develops between Oliver and Elio. Their love isn't explicitly displayed at first, but rather slowly creeping its way into Elio's mind- like a dream that won't go away. A touch on the shoulder, a sentence or two said in jest- it all builds up between these two characters in a marvelous gesture that should go down as one of the best constructed romances ever made. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer have a chemistry that is unlike anything I could have ever anticipated. They easily slip in and out of each other's grasps, yet in the end they need each other more than anything else. The character development between these two protagonists is astounding- if I could only choose one film to prove that cinema is in fact a mirror of our reality, I would pick Call Me By Your Name.

But with this blossoming beautiful romance, there is pain. A lingering feeling that this can't last forever. A melancholy tone, suffused with the occasional piece by Sufjan Stevens, permeates this romance with a sting that you just know it has to end. And by the time you get to that ending, you may find yourself shedding a tear. Hammer and Chalamet deliver performances that transcend the meaning of cinema itself and bring it to a state that is larger than life. A feeling that these characters are real human beings, and that this could have, or even has happened to one or many, or maybe even all of us. It's that touch of sadness that reverberates back to the start with the lingering single final shot that makes Call Me By Your Name stand out among other unconventional romances. It will make you yearn to go back to the beginning, to experience the love, the life, the laughter, the pain- all over again. It is, to put it bluntly, a masterpiece (a word I use sparsely to describe films nowadays), and a triumph- completely redefining the experience of a romance film, and probably one of the most personally haunting films I will ever witness.

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