This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Xia’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
This has been a highly anticipated film of mine ever since I first learned about its existance after it had premiered at Sundance in January. All those months leading up unitil these past few days had been filled with so much suspense and anticipation and hype it was almost unbearable. It was hard to try and keep my expectations at a reasonable level because there was nothing but absolute praise surrounding this movie I was almost afraid that it wouldn’t live up to it. It all just seemed too good to be true.
Having seen the movie twice now I can say with complete honesty that this movie not only meets any expectations that you may have it exceeds them. You may think that you know exactly what to expect or what’s going to happen especially if you’ve read the book but it surprises you.
One of my biggest surprises was just how funny the movie was. I would say the book had any funny moments which was why seeing the way that humor was integrated and was effortlessly woven into this movie was an incredible addition.
Also another surprise was just how real and fleshed out the character of Oliver felt. With Elio being an unreliable narrator of the book you never know what Oliver is feeling. He could come across as rather flat even. But Armie Hammer’s acting ability is something to be admired in this role. It’s the little things that he does where you can see into his mind and you immediately feel what he’s feeling. Especially after the night he and Elio sleep together for the first time and Elio starts to distance himself from Oliver. It’s obvious how happy he was initially and then how that happiness shifts into uncomfortable unease at Elio’s reaction. He fully and completely embodies his role as Oliver in such an amazing and what feels effortless way that it’s a surprise to know how apprehensive he was to take on the roll in the first place.
Of course I have to talk about the leading man him self Timothée Chalamet. He completely owns this role and twists it in a way where you can’t see Elio as anyone but him. He plays a teenager in a way that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a teenager played before. Elio is so full of love and affection and energy which you can see during the scenes when he’ll randomly jump on and kiss his mother or Marzia (and later Oliver as well). Or when he’ll be walking regularly and just throw out a jump slide with a side of a shoulder shimmy. The way he plays out the way Elio’s feelings as they slowly develop for Oliver is an amazing journey. From the beginning curiosity, to the longing jealous looks whenever Oliver would give someone else attention.
There’s a particular scene that immediately stuck out to me the second it was playing. It’s such a small scene probably only 20 seconds. Oliver and Mr. Perlman are walking ahead of Elio as they’re traveling to look at a statue that’s been brought up from the ocean. Elio is hanging back a bit walking on the opposite side of some pillars just watching Oliver and the scene is just so soft with the light music playing and the almost slow motion feel of it all. It’s all so unbelievably romantic in such a way that it was like I was feeling it all as he was.
The movie is described as sensual a lot but to be honest I’m not sure if it does it justice. I would say it’s almost erotic at times but not an exploitative way whatsoever. There will be scenes where Oliver and Elio are just breathing heavily pressed against each other and it’s so intense you can’t do anything but sit and watch completely captivated.
And of course the climax of the film itself is a scene that Elio has with his father after he returns from his small trip away with Oliver before seeing him off back to America. As a queer young person myself this scene especially hit me emotionally moref than anything else in the movie. We all wish so much that we had parents as tolerant and accepting as Elio does. It’s told in such a genuine way that makes my heart start to clench now just thinking about it.
This film is honestly just so unbelievably beautiful and I urge anyone out there to just go see it. Any reservations you may have just put them aside for a few hours and just watch and take it all in. You will not regret it I can sincerely promise you that.