I have never seen something quite like “Call Me by Your Name” before that made it hard to turn away from. While there have been plenty of coming-of-age tales and movies that depict a summer romance, “Call Me by Your Name” not only goes all-in on the lust and passion these characters feel for each other, but I’ve honestly never seen something like that done with a homosexual relationship. This might turn some people away, but for those who want to see a film give us every bit of love and desire it can muster then this film will not disappoint.
Set in Northern Italy in 1983, the film follows 17-year old Elio Perlman (Timothee Chalamet) on summer vacation with his parents out in the country. Elio’s father is a professor of archaeology and invites American graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer) to live with them for the summer and help with the professor’s work. Elio and Oliver initally butt heads due to their vastly different personalities, but eventually develop a solid friendship that very quickly becomes much more than that.
If there is one word that describes “Call Me by Your Name” it would be desire. While Elio is an introvert and Oliver is extreme extrovert, it is clear that both of them want more out of life and are looking for the opportunity to explore everything that it has to offer. And once they’ve had a taste of passion and lust, they can hardly contain themselves. They treat life like it’s one big firework and give it everything they have, even if it all explodes at once. These characters are curious and horny, which makes their quiet and tender scenes so fascinating to observe.
I have never seen romance done quite like this before in a movie, where so much heat and appetite is on display, but they’re so gentle with each other. We all have an idea of what love looks like in the movies, and “Call Me by Your Name” turns that on its head in more ways than one. From the way Elio and Oliver talk about classical music and what they want to do with the summer to the kind way they touch and hold one another, this is not what you would expect out of an Italian romance.
For this reason, I would certainly recommend “Call Me by Your Name.” It respects the different ways these characters show their affection for each other. It also gives us some great acting from Armie Hammer and a breakthrough role for Timothee Chalamet as a confused quiet boy who goes through one of the most difficult and painful paths a teenager can take and comes out of it a much stronger man. I respect “Call Me by Your Name” for the many chances it takes and its approach to the Hollywood romance, and this is certainly a film worth your time.
Final Grade: B