Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★½

Added to: 2017 Ranked

Walking out of the theater I didn't know right away what to feel for Guadagnino's latest film. I did know I felt it however and quite strongly, at that. I felt it breathe heavily. I felt it touch itself and discover itself along the simmering heat of that summer in Italy. I felt the curiosity of the young Elio as he found an interest in the older, maturer Oliver and I definitely felt how they fell in love and had to leave each other be again. But for some reason, I also felt scared.

Perhaps it was the angst that also hung around Elio. He is a clear example of an introvert. He prefers his time alone, spends a lot of it reading or in close proximity of music; he has some friends but don't expect him to be out on the dancefloor if he doesn't necessarily need to. Then suddenly this man drops in out of nowhere, like a bronze statue come to life. He's wary of him but at the same time quite interested in him too. As the summer goes on, the small habits and intricacies the two carry along with them become closely intertwined. A playful friendship becomes a playful romance. Elio, in all his young innocence, hungers for the love that Oliver gives him like a baby wolf, yet at the same time, he is afraid of admitting it. "Is it better to speak or die?"

Whether it's the kind of love that's not fully appreciated yet around the world or in your smallest of community's or the most common love of a father towards his child, opening your mouth and letting your voice say the words that describe how you feel, can be a gargantuan challenge. Call Me by Your Name isn't made as a grand statement but as a soft, nearly inaudible whisper. It is felt and seen more than it is told and that's arguably its greatest strength. It never lives on grand gestures but on intimate flourishes. The love in the film is felt through the crickets chirping in the fields, the color of the peaches in the high sun, the careful steps in ice-cold midnight water, and the strong struggle of Hammer and Chalamet that digs deeper and deeper in every scene. The uncommon love the two have is present in every scene, every bit of the film but so rarely put into words.

It is therefore perhaps that my strongest emotions came towards the end when Elio's father confesses to him that he knows. He knows and recalls feeling like he had of his own. Once more nothing is said to directly, everything is put in words hidden behind other words but it is most certainly felt. In all the wondrous madness of love, it might be the hardest thing to put words to the feelings that course through your body. You express them in gestures ranging from handshakes to furious lovemaking, you hide them away in crumpled up notes and masturbatory fantasies and you confuse your own mind and end up in frustration by giving into its tricks at the wrong moments; yet oh so rarely do you feel the power to open your mouth and just say that name. I'm sure now that my fear was just the fear anyone could feel when in love and Call Me by Your Name really visualizes that: the mystery of love.

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