chris 💫’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the most genuine, heartbreakingly truthful artistic portraits of love. Much has already been said of the film's interpretation of first love-- namely of Guadagnino's beautifully evocative portrait of the clumsiness of these two love-stricken individuals' impassioned love affair-- but I would argue that contrarily, the film views all love as innately clumsy, as much an act of carefree self-discovery as a futile attempt at creating something permanent in a world of impermanence; a bond both between oneself and between a lover. And yet Guadagnino understands the vitality of that impermanence, painting the central romance in impassioned bouts of flirtation and sexual arousal, undercut by a knowing, melancholic acknowledgement that this love cannot last.
And yet the film is so artfully and exquisitely crafted that the inevitability of its bittersweet conclusion is easy to brush away, to dismiss; this is celluloid, after all, and in celluloid these sorts of things get to last forever. The chemistry between the two leads is so fiercely undeniable, so contagiously, infectiously, tangibly genuine that it seems to defy the innate artifice of the film around it, and Guadagnino-- ever a master of capturing sensuality cinematically-- constructs around his two leads a ferocious and intoxicating sensorial experience.
Sufjan Stevens heartbreaking musical contributions and Sayombhu Mukdeeprom's breathtaking cinematography are notable artistic high points, bolstering the already exquisite construction of the film, but more significantly, lending it a heightened semblance of realism. Here is a film that not only beautifully, achingly occupies every square inch of its perfectly-composed frames, but breaks free of them, leaping from the percieved artifice of cinema into the real world. Guadagnino's film feels like more than a film, but an experience-- a trite notion to be sure, but an applicable one, as to watch "Call Me by Your Name" feels like peering in on the beautifully personal moments of its characters' quiet lives.
This is that rare picture that must be seen to be believed-- a masterful and exquisitely crafted love story whose contents transcend the puny confines of the cinematic medium to occupy a tangible part of the real world; its characters feel less like characters and more like living, breathing people. All we can do is observe the ecstasy of their interactions and give eternal thanks that we were so lucky as to have been able to peer in on their interactions.