Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★½

“Don’t make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything. What a waste.”

And the totality of first love experience is rendered such as to have us feel almost everything -- the summer's heat, flies hovering around meals, cool breeze on the bike, sudden cold splashes when one first swims -- all set against the impossibly gorgeous backdrop of sun-drenched Italian countryside. The details all so vivid, the shots elongated, the pacing in no hurry for any real plot or heavy drama, as if the environment is one that will be soaked and entrenched in memory for years to come. And for Elio (in an astounding performance from Timothée Chalamet that blends intellectual confidence and late-teenage gangly awkwardness so affectingly well), this context only helps confirm the all-consuming force of his infatuation as a transformative one. He truly loses himself in another, and it loops back to him as a permanent growth, all his precocious talents and knowledge finally having an experience of identity to match.

The tender sensuality of Elio's and Oliver's slow-burn attraction, in which the chemistry between Chalamet and Armie Hammer is conveyed though gradual accumulation of furtive gestures and casual glances (as well as the help of music, literature, and archaeology as their bridge towards each other), is followed by a pure rush of intoxicating, burned-bright passion. But what makes those two sections parts of a romance to remember is their capper, which underlines the film with melancholy and maturity, best encapsulated by Michael Stuhlbarg's magnificently heartfelt and tender monologue. His words help frame Elio's story in the larger context of a life, in all its memories and experiences. Remember everything.

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