Mike’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm really at a loss for words with this one.
I feel like I just witnessed a dream. It didn't feel like I was sitting, watching a film crafted by writers, actors and a director. Everything felt so real, so authentic.
The portrayal of this relationship is so intimate and delicate. You see that they have true feelings for each other, yet due to their own personal reservations, they're hesitant about letting each other know. Over the course of the 2 hour runtime you see them grow, being hostile towards each other initially and gradually building toward an intimate relationship. You see that there's also a sense of awkwardness too, like there always is. There's never a perfect match, and some aspects of relationships can be awkward to one. This film never portrays this relationship as this perfect thing. There's a deep connection that they both share, but there's also an insecurity, mostly from the character of Elio.
These characters are also beautifully written. Again, you don't feel like these are fictional people put in fictional situations saying fictional dialogue. Everything feels so authentic, and each character acts naturally. You just feel like you're watching real life unfold on the screen. I felt the same way with Guadagnino's previous film A Bigger Splash. The way he brings these characters to life makes them feel so authentic and real, and not feel like an exposition machine or a character created entirely to further the plot. Each character serves their purpose, no matter how big or small. The chemistry between Elio and Oliver is also beautifully written. Like I said before, their relationship is portrayed so beautifully, and a big part of why it works is because of the chemistry. Nothing feels forced in terms of how the actors act out the more intimate scenes. It all just feels natural.
Speaking of the actors, Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer give the best performances I've seen from them thus far. Chalamet in particular surprised me. I haven't seen him in anything other than his minor role in Interstellar. This guy has serious acting chops, and I hope to see him in more films soon. Same could be said about Hammer. While he was great in The Social Network, he really gets a chance to flex his dramatic chops here. And like I said before, the chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer is just incredible. It just adds to the fact that this onscreen relationship is so believable.
Luca Guadagnino's impeccable direction helps to create this sort of dreamlike atmosphere. Everything from the camera movement to the production design gives this film a feeling that can't really be described in words. You'll know what I feel when you see the film, it just feels like a dream. The cinematography especially is incredible. Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's cinematography helps to give off this vibrant feel, helping the shots to seamlessly blend together. The use of color also is key in this film, contributing to the dreamy quality. In short, this is just one of the best directed films of the year, hands down.
The use of music in the film is also incredible. It helps to convey the time period well, with selections by Giorgio Moroder and The Psychedelic Furs, but there are also songs in here that evoke a sense of melancholy and longing. Selections by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Sufjan Stevens help to give this film a convey this, with the music evoking a feeling of longing and sadness if you will. It's not depressing music per se, but it really feels introspective and self reflective. It's all great music, so I highly suggest you give the soundtrack a listen.
Overall, Call Me by Your Name is one of the best films I've seen this year. The intimate portrayal of this relationship coupled by the spellbinding direction and cinematography make this film one that I won't be forgetting anytime soon.