Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★½

"Then let me say one more thing. It'll clear the air. I may have come close, but I never had what you two have. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business, just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there's sorrow, pain. Don't kill it and with it the joy you've felt."

Let's just dive right into this one. It's about a 17 year old boy named Elio who lives with his parents in northern Italy and pretty much does nothing but read books and is somewhat of a musical prodigy (I think it's established that their family just stays there for the summer and winter). His father is a professor of archaeology and has an American grad student come help him every summer with his academic work. In the summer of 1983, a young man named Oliver, arrives and at first, Elio despises him and his carefree attitude. But as time passes, they eventually fall in love and reveal their mutual feelings towards one another.

Well, I wasn't sure if I'd like this movie, but I did for the most part. The first half is very slow and kind of uninteresting. Just a bunch of people sitting around, discussing archaeology, swimming, and the occasional bike ride to town. They give very little details about Elio's parents or anyone else in the story for that matter. The main focus is almost completely on Elio and Oliver. In fact, the majority of the film feels like it's from Elio's perspective. They don't even try to establish why Elio doesn't have a job or have to do any chores like most kids his age would be doing. His parents just trust him and let him be. They don't even really spell out what his father does or why he has a student spending the summer there though, you can kind of figure it out as it goes along. It's a very intelligent script that doesn't treat it's audience like dummies. Then there's the mom who does....what does she do? They have their own cook and I don't think she has a job, so I really couldn't say.

The main thing I was worried about is would the two lead character's romantic relationship work? Would the circumstances that brought them together feel natural or contrived? My biggest problem with the movie "Carol" is that I didn't buy those two character's romance for a second. Seeing as these are both period films about secret homosexual relationships that are praised by critics and have multiple Oscar nominations, I tend to be a little more cynical towards this stuff. Then again, can you really enjoy a romance film if the romance feels phoney and or the characters have no chemistry onscreen. Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised by how believable I found their relationship to be here. Well, except for the question of why a handsome and physically fit guy like Armie Hammer, would find a skinny, bookworm attractive. But that's probably just me speaking in generalities. Then of course, there's the fact that he's a minor, but maybe that's not the case in Italy (I hope!). I definitely felt the emotional impact in the third act of this movie, so I think it's safe to say that I did buy their relationship.

My favorite scene isn't actually any of the ones with Oliver and Elio but Elio and his father. That monologue that the wonderful Michael Stuhlbarg delivers is beautiful and heartbreaking. That scene alone, should have gotten him an Oscar nomination. I could watch that scene over and over.

"We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste!"

This was solid film with beautiful performances and shots of Italy, but I definitely had some problems with it. I wish the first half had been more compelling and not felt like a chore to get through. I wish Elio had treated his girlfriend better. I felt so bad for her but was happy that the script treated her character with respect in the end and didn't just forget about her. The script is definitely this film's strongest element. That being said, it's not one that I would watch again. Good film or not, I don't particularly enjoy watching two guys get it on. Though, I'm happy the film showed restraint on that instead of showing multiple graphic sex scenes like "blue is the warmest color" that we don't really need. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can call me by your name but I won't call you by mine. Zing! ....Sorry, I couldn't resist.

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Philip Carroll liked this review