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Movie review: “Call Me By Your Name”

“Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.”

  These are the words Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, says to his lover Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, in a moment of intimacy in Luca Guadagnino’s latest film “Call Me By Your Name.”

In one of the best movies of 2017, Guadagnino and his gifted actors sweep the audience off their feet into a beautiful whirlwind summer romance.

Taking place in the summer of 1983 on a Northern Italian villa, “Call Me By Your Name” is about Elio Perlman, the 17-year-old son of a professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) and translator (Amira Casar) who falls in love with Oliver, an intern who is spending the summer with them to aid Elio’s father in his research.

The opening credits sequence sets the tone with shots of Professor Perlman’s research, a desk covered in notes and pictures of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, while handwritten credits will appear over the sound of a single piano evoking the classical credits sequences like that of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Sufjan Stevens provides a few original songs for the film, expertly complementing the minimalist classical piano score. These two sources of music evoke the simple beauty of a whirlwind summer romance.

Editing in “Call Me By Your Name” also stands out as the scene transitions do not have a traditional rhythm. Rather than cutting on story beats, it will cut on emotion leaving the audience to follow the movie where it feels it should go rather than where conventional storytelling dictates it should.

Northern Italy is almost a character in itself. Guadagnino has a gift for sensory direction where you too feel like you are swimming in the river, biking around the village square and drinking freshly squeezed apricot juice.

The direction is not only sensory but sensual. The love and sexual tension between Elio and Oliver is thick and palpable. Rarely does a movie come around with such a believable and truly romantic relationship that you just want to soak in and experience.

It almost feels as if the audience is falling in love for the first time alongside Elio, a true testament not only to Guadagnino’s expert direction, but also to Chalamet and Hammer’s intense chemistry.

Chalamet is the great breakout talent of this film. He can express a large range of emotion and intent without dialogue. His best scene does not even involve him speaking. It is just one several minute long close-up of his face expressing everything from heartbreak to fond remembrance while crying into a fireplace.

Not to be forgotten, though, is Hammer, who does the best work of his career in this small artistic piece after years of being shoehorned into blockbusters where he was clearly less comfortable.

Stuhlbarg delivers yet another standout performance as Elio’s father. He gives a monologue at the end to his brokenhearted son that might just be one of the greatest pieces of film dialogue in the past few years.

The combined talents of everyone involved with this gorgeous feature join forces to transport the audience to a nostalgic, warm, and more than anything, romantic summer of music, sex, fresh fruit, literature, art, and love.

“Call Me By Your Name” is receiving Oscar buzz and for good reason. As one of the most emotionally affecting movies of the past year, it is not to be missed.

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