Call Me by Your Name (2017)


Cast includes: Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man),
Director: Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash, I am Love)
Genre: Drama | Romance (132 minutes) Based on a novel by André Aciman (Partly in Italian with subtitles)


Huffington Post

Summer, 1983. Elio is taking things out of his closet, getting ready to move into the room next door so his dad’s graduate assistance can have the good room. “Is that the intruder?” asks Elio, looking out of his 2nd floor window. “He seems very confident.” Elio helps Oliver by bringing things up to “his/my room,” and Oliver instantly falls sound asleep on the bed. Even asleep, Elio can size him up… incredibly good looking, nonchalant and confident. Elio, who is 17, is a bundle of hormones and teenage awkwardness. At breakfast the next morning, Elio notices that Oliver wears a Star of David. The Perlmans are probably the only Jewish family in this small Italian town, and they don’t advertise their Jewishness. “What does one do around here,” Oliver asks Elio. “Wait for summer to end,” says Elio. No seriously… Elio reads, transcribes music and plays the piano… and when he’s not doing that, he swims in the river. The Perlman home is warm, welcoming and liberal… it’s also alive with energy, multiple languages and intelligent conversation. You have to be on your game when you’re at the Perlman’s, and Oliver fits right in.

“Don’t you think he’s arrogant when he says, ‘Later’ instead of goodbye?” says Elio. “Just wait… this is how he’ll say goodbye to us when the time comes… [pause for effect] ‘Later.’”  “You’ll grow to like him,” Mom says. “What if I only grow to tolerate him?” Even though Elio is a teenager with attitude, Oliver enjoys his company… “Is there anything you don’t know?” “Not the things that matter,” says Elio. “What things that matter?” “You know what things.” They soon develop a language of their own as they spend more and more time together, bicycling into town and to the river. As Elio develops a growing infatuation for Oliver, it’s clear that, “Everyone loves Oliver.” At a local dance, the prettiest girl dances with Oliver most of the night, and Elio can’t help remarking on it. “Just don’t play at being the good host,” snaps Oliver… an uncharacteristically sharp response. There is clearly tension in the air. Not only does it seem that Elio want to be with Oliver, it also seems Elio to want to be Oliver… gradually taking on some of Oliver’s subtle little characteristics… like the Star of David. But is Oliver simply being his usual charming self, or does he have similar feelings for Elio?

As their relationship develops, it’s clear that Elio is no longer “waiting for summer to be over.” Their attraction grows in fits and starts. But it would be dismissive to think this is just a “gay” movie. The push and pull of emotions is universal and totally relatable for anyone who has ever had a temporary but intimate connection with a memorable person. The film unfolds slowly with many subtle details… each adding to the sexual and emotional connection. We’re so thoroughly transported to the small Italian town that we can almost feel the heat of the sun. It’s a lovely 2 hours at the theater. All the performances are excellent, but Timothée Chalamet is certainly a standout. He seems perfectly at home with fast moving dialog in English and Italian, as well as some impressive musical abilities. He is at the emotional center of this movie, living out the excitement and pain of struggling to navigate adulthood using many of the tools of childhood. The Perlmans are a very open family, encouraging their children to experience as much as life has to offer, which means it may not possible to shelter them from all pain. A book they’re reading as a family asks, “Is it better to speak or to die?” Elio certainly wonders how to answer that.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Graduate student and the professor’s son develop a heartfelt and memorable relationship

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Nudity, Sexual Contents)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Art House
Mood: Sober
Tempo: In No Hurry
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Love and loss
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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