Call Me By Your Name Movie Review
Given that sexual misconduct is in the spotlight right now, it’s interesting that Call Me By Your Name, in which Armie Hammer, a 31-year-old playing a 24-year-old (?), starts a relationship with a 17-year-old teenager, played by 21-year-old Timothée Chalamet, has been drawing so much positive attention. Then again, when you actually watch the movie, it’s clear why: the film is a sincere, moving romantic drama that will make you never look at a peach the same way again.
Set in 1983 Italy, where the age of consent is like 14 or something like that, Chalamet plays Elio, a teenager who is trying to have sex for the first time with his quasi-girlfriend (Esther Garrel). But his focus is drawn from her when his father’s research assistant, an American named Oliver (Hammer), moves in for the summer. Thankfully, Oliver apparently doesn’t actually have to do any research while in Italy, so Elio and Oliver have time to bond… and do other things that Roy Moore would probably not approve of.
Though a romance between two men (or in this case, a man and a teenager) is still offensive to some because the Bible says so, Call Me By Your Name is a beautifully written, directed and acted movie that with great care and detail establishes their love for one another.
As gorgeously made as the movie is, Hammer and Chalamet carry the film on their shoulders, both delivering complex, nuanced and engaging performances. Chalamet, who also landed gigs in Lady Bird and Hostiles this year (his agent better get a bonus!), is especially good.
Despite all its strengths, Call Me By Your Name is almost too straightforward for its own good; as immersive as it is, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the film to deserve the major Oscar hype it has received. Its 2+ hour running time seems unnecessary given how little conflict the characters encounter throughout. Further, the build-up is more fascinating than the actual relationship; once the two hook up, the movie loses some of its luster (and actually had me checking my clock a few times).
Then again, director Luca Guadagnino wraps things up with a beautifully crafted scene between Chalamet and his on-screen father Michael Stuhlbarg. Stuhlbarg is good throughout, but it’s the type of scene that can win awards on its own.
Call Me By Your Name is a superbly made film, though the end result is a fairly routine, if beautifully concocted, romantic drama. It deserves credit, but doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.