We all go on a journey of discovery, trying to figure out which path to take and which one is the right one for us. At such a young age, it is so difficult to decide and once we think we have found the right path, it soon turns out to be the wrong decision, getting hurt within the process. Discovering one’s sexuality is most difficult. Especially in a time when being with someone of the same sex is frowned upon, but when love is in the equation, there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is set in Northern Italy in 1983, following Elio (Timothée Chalamet) a precocious seventeen-year-old on a journey of self-discovery, exploring his sexuality with his father’s research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). They bond and form a relationship over three months, looking into his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage and the picturesque Italian landscape.
Based on the novel by André Aciman, James Ivory excellently adapts his words into words that don’t need to be said. Luca Guadagnino manages to portray feelings and emotions simply through minuscule actions. With the film being set within the beautiful Italian culture and landscape, you gather an extra essence of love within the language compared to what it would be like set elsewhere. Guadagnino lets time develop the relationship, flowing everything in sequence, wanting us to create an understanding of the on-screen relationship they are sharing.
Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer are inseparable and in-sync throughout. Their chemistry makes their relationship feel right like they were meant to be. Scenes without them together were wrong and out of tune. You fall in love with what is clearly meant to be. A journey of discovery also involves what society considers to be right, which is to have relations only with women. However, when either character was having intimate relations with a woman, you felt uncomfortable. You knew what Elio wanted and you also knew what Oliver wanted. Their on-screen relationship is like no other one I have seen. The intimacy that both actors shared is shown with passion and ecstasy. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer make you feel apart of their emotions and the feelings they share towards each other, making their performances within this piece elegant and exclusive.
What further makes this more intriguing to watch is the relationship between Elio and his parents, Mr.Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Annella (Amira Casar). It’s something you rarely see placed within a story such as this, is the understanding that the parents have towards Elio and Oliver’s relationship. As an audience, we are so used to seeing parents being angered at their child for being a homosexual. Michael Stuhlbarg’s final words to Elio hits you the most. For your father to accept your relationship and your sexuality is something we can relate to. To see that displayed on screen hits you hard and makes you feel different to what society and films have taught us previously. You see everything from a different perspective.
In summary, this is easily one of the films of the year. It explores avenues that most producers and directors are scared to venture down and for Luca Guadagnino to take the bull by the horns makes him worthy of the praise he is receiving. I truly have nothing bad to say.