Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
Just like with Carol in 2016, I am the last homosexual to see this movie.
"Because I wanted you to know."
I waited three days before logging this because I have no clue what to say about it. As I was sitting in the theater waiting for this to begin (a sold-out screening on a Thursday, by the way) I realized that I had not been this hyped for a movie since I was a literal child. I really loved the book and had been hearing about this movie for so, so long. And in that time, I got so hyped up for this movie. And it lived up to my insane hype.
It's just so beautiful. I don't really know how to engage with it. As a gay person watching a movie about homoerotic desire and love, it's easy and also very tempting to praise a movie for its honesty just because it lines up with my personal experience. I could spend the rest of this review, and it'd end up one of my longer ones, just listing moments in here that ~happened~, in some form, to me. I won't, but I could. But that's kind of a cop-out, and also a shitty way of grappling with this movie. I'm also tempted to just praise its form, to just boil it down to its parts and look at them analytically. That's also tempting, but fails to emphasize that, as masterfully and meticulously constructed as this is, it sells the movie short as a moving piece. I just really don't know how to talk about this, but I want to.
So. Some scattered thoughts:
As you can expect, I wish it was sexier. Or, rather, dirtier. I don't usually find it productive to compare a movie to its source material, but in comparison to the book, the movie feels almost afraid of the sexual nature of their relationship. There are moments (that I'm sure you'll recognize if you've seen this) that feel like they belong to a much more timid film.
That's pretty much it for negative things. I think Armie Hammer (who I believe is around 30 and plays a 24 year old) feels a bit old for the part, but that's a minor gripe. And maybe it's because Elio probably feels like Oliver is older than Oliver actually is. 24 feels older when you're 17 than when you're 24 or older. But I also don't think that's it, because throughout the movie we're left trying to puzzle out Elio's thoughts and feelings just as Elio is with Oliver's.
The rest is lovely. It flies by, even when you don't want it to. The four main characters are phenomenal. Amira Casar's Annella Perlman is criminally underrated, even though I understand why Michael Stuhlbarg's Sam Perlman is getting more attention. I'm also really in love with Michael Stuhlbarg now. The photography is beautiful: the whole thing is like this dreamy '80s Italian summer fantasia.
I can't really talk about it now but I keep prattling on about it anyways. It broke down years of emotional barriers.