Not since The Graduate has a coming of age film felt so knowledgeable yet so confused at the same time
Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is a teenager nearing adulthood, stuck in the process of discovering who he is. His father (Michael Stuhlbarg), is a renowned archaeologist who hires a new helper each summer. When Oliver (Armie Hammer) and American arrives, he shows Elio how impressive a man can be. The pair share a strange beginning, disguising the feelings they may or may not have for each other.
Call Me By Your Name fits as a mesmerising sequence of short scenes, each building quietly on the characters it cherishes, especially that of Oliver and Elio, in the most powerfully revealing way. Oliver’s persona is announced. Already a grown man he is fully formed and understands his sexuality, whereas Elio doesn’t understand anything. Each of his moments unlocking a section of his potential. His confusion is our confusion, and not since The Graduate has a coming of age film felt so knowledgeable yet so confused at the same time.
Their characters are run by an excellent Armie Hammer and a magnificent Timothee Chamalet. Hammer allows defiance and strength, almost manipulation, to run his performance which contrasts perfectly with Chamalet’s naivety and complete submission to his own emotions. Both performances are highly sexually emotive but appreciate the intimacies that come with that.
Luca Guadagnino has created a tremendously open film which explores all manners of self-worth and the importance of releasing inner emotions. The backdrop of Northern Italy is not just beautiful but it is relative, with its hazy weather complimenting the drama it holds. A soundtrack filled with Sufjan Stevens is naturally melancholic and it suits the film’s message overtly. Yet, the moment that shows the true power of Call Me By Your Name, comes in the form of a monologue by Michael Stuhlburg. It is direct, it is honest, and it is overwhelmingly real.