‘Call Me by Your Name’: One of the best films of 2017

By Jose Gil

The warmth of a summer day surrounding your body, the sounds of nature echoing in your ear, and the sweet aroma of a peach invading your nose. Director Luca Guadagnino has a talent for crafting vibrant visuals that pop off the screen, and, in his latest feature, “Call Me by Your Name,” he accomplishes this all while telling a heart-wrenching story of love and loss.

By saturating the screen with the warm colors of the Italian summer and allowing the pace to languidly crawl throughout, the audience is allowed to escape into a dreamlike daze. The idyllic nature of the film is enticing. With the small Italian city of Crema presenting itself as a beautiful backdrop for a story centered around desire and beauty, all the audience is left to do is to sit back and enjoy the visual feast presented.   

“Call Me by Your Name,” is based on the novel of the same name from André Aciman. It tells the tale of Elio (Timothee Chalamet), a gifted young 17-year old with a penchant for the fine arts, and his romantic experience with his father’s new research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American man in his mid-20s. The movie takes its time setting up their romance. In the beginning, they trade subtle moments – furtive glances and short interactions – we see the two like expert boxers, bobbing and weaving towards each other testing the other’s emotions.

They begin to spend more time as the film progresses and it’s in the small, mundane moments where the two sit around the Italian villa that we can feel the romantic tension in the air. This is why it is all the more satisfying when an hour into this movie we see the culmination of this ballad between the two. The two have earned their raw and emotional love scene that balances the erotic and sensible beauty that is two human beings that love each other. The chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer is palpable. They ooze a genuineness that is not often seen in the film, and the small, awkward moments they share translates to the audience a real human connection. Their happiness becomes our happiness and their heartache hurts us just as much.

After spending a majority of the film building the relationship between characters we must now shatter the illusion that the romance could continue once Oliver leaves back to America. It’s in the film’s final moments that the weight of its themes of love, loss, and identity is delivered. A touching monologue delivered by Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) about how Elio should treasure the beauty of the experience he had, pain and all, is one of the most powerful monologues in recent film history, and I doubt anyone watching has a dry eye after it. As the credits roll, a hauntingly beautiful track by Sufjan Stevens called “Visions of Gideon” plays while the camera lingers on Elio who looks like he’s about to tear at the seams.

Guadagnino’s storytelling is elevated by his masterfully crafted scenes. Every lingering shot leaves audience members salivating at the beauty of its framing, composition, and color. Filmmaking techniques that are vastly different from most modern films, but that work in unison with the story being told. The emotional resonance the film exhibits can be recognized by all, leaving audiences with tears streaming down their eyes and thoughts on the movie long after it has ended. “Call Me by Your Name,” is one of the best films of 2017 and a must-see for those enamored by coming of age films and for anyone who has a heart.

The film has a limited release in art-house theaters such as O Cinema Miami Beach, Tower Theater, and even some showings at AMC Sunset Place 24 so go check it out before it leaves theater next week.

A+

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