Based on a book by Andre Aciman, and starring Timothée (pronounced Timo-TAY) Chalamet (as Elio) and Armie Hammer (as Oliver), Call Me By Your Name is not your typical coming of age story. What sets it apart (among so many other things) is that it is about a teenage boy’s first time with a woman, his first time with a man, and a couple of other “firsts.”
This movie is important for quite a few reasons. It is one of only a few mainstream, teen coming of age love stories involving homosexuals. And yes, it is a love story (I had no idea what it was about going in) – about a summer fling. The lovers just happen to both be male. Even more importantly, Call Me By Your Name shows these supersupportive parents who trust their child, have faith in the way they have raised him and allow him to be his own person without judgment, while he figures himself out. Without. Judgment. This very much mirrors my own parenting style. Educate/inform and discuss, set free. I believe in preparing a child for real life and the inevitable flight they must take on their own journey. I believe in letting them live their lives; not your version of their lives. Love them for who they are; whoever that may be. (As long as they are not a serial killer or something crazy. Then we have a seriousproblem.)
Call Me By Your Name is an important story because it focuses on love and camaraderie between and among men. Complex and strong emotional bonds do not exist exclusively among women, but you wouldn’t really know that looking at what Hollywood has delivered so far. And it isn’t just about romantic love. It is also about how men build friendship, collegial relationships and the father/son relationship. Part of this kid’s coming of age is about the all important moment when we (at least we all should at some point in a healthy parent: child relationship) reestablish our relationship with our parents from parent: child to adult: adult.
The writing is strong as we watch the evolution of Elio from a gangly, unsure boy to a young adult within a very short time period. I do not mind the fact that the young boy is 17 (not 18) and involved with an older man. I know in many places that would be considered statutory rape, at the very least. But the story doesn’t take place in America, the boy’s family is very eclectic and forward thinking, the boy was mature for his age in many ways (and of course not so much in other ways) and no one was forced to do anything they didn’t want to do. And seriously, the 6 foot 5 hotness that is Armie Hammer in this movie is serious ya’ll. He’s beautiful in this movie – smart, interesting, charismatic, thoughtful, good looking. Nearly everyone in the movie developed some sort of a crush on him.
Call Me By Your Name is well directed by Luca Guadagnino. I didn’t feel like an outsider looking in. I felt as if I were inside of this young man’s experience, in Northern Italy in 1983 with the locations, set design, the music and the clothing. The scenery is gorgeous. It makes me want to book a trip to Italy right now, honestly. Suspense is built by these two guys flirting, obsessing over one another, avoiding one another, resisting, sneaking around, and the way it is directed (along with the way it is written and acted of course) allows you to feel all of this. The same way one would feel it all if the stars were a man and a woman. I forgot all about the homosexuality of it all after a while, as it really became about this flirtation/love affair.
The acting is wonderful. Chalamet is extremely talented while being adorable and fearless at the same time. He relayed what a first love looks like from start (the all consuming crush) to finish (the bitter sweet conclusion) quite convincingly. Michael Stuhlbarg as Elio’s father brought me to tears with some outstanding dialogue about life he delivers to his son after questioning him to verify the suspected nature of his relationship with Oliver. It is stirring, beautiful, heartfelt and so honest. It made me miss my own dad who at times was this type of straight shooting truth telling father to me.
Call Me By Your Name earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a great movie that reminded me of what I love about movies. It made me feel a great deal in a world where as an adult being numb much of the time is a requirement in order to survive with your mental health in-tact. This movie, if you choose to give it a chance, will make you feel what lust and love feels like and relive those emotions of first love – regardless of your sexual orientation. Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, people. It is a great feat to take an emotion out of someone’s head, put it onto paper and have it successfully executed on screen.
As always, this is not a film for everyone. If the sight of two men engaging in sexual activity makes you squirm, just keep it moving. If you’re embarrassed by love and sex scenes (heterosexual or homosexual), skip it. You might not want to take your grandmother or your teenager without knowing what you’re getting in to, or now that you have a better idea of what goes on, maybe you do. I don’t know your family. You can decide. I didn’t find it incredibly graphic, but four people (two who were together and two individuals) walked out during the screening I attended.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
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