Friday, January 05, 2018

Call Me By Your Name

This afternoon I saw Call Me By Your Name, starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer.

Oliver (Hammer) can only be described as magnetic—those who know him can't help but love him. When he arrives in Italy to be the research assistant for one of his favorite professors, he's immediately popular, especially with the professor's teenage son, Elio (Chalamet).

Though Oliver and Elio are both seeing women, they develop an undeniable attraction, which they fight because Oliver declares he wants to "be good."

As the summer progresses, the two grow closer and their feelings can no longer be denied. The relationship becomes sexual and feelings intensify.

I love the way Director Luca Guadagnino treated these scenes; they were awkward, tender, scary, sweet—all of the things that traditionally happen when a couple touches intimately for the first time. Oliver was protective of the younger Elio, who was a bundle of repressed hormones. Their passion was equal, though their experience with sex clearly was not. You felt happy and sad for them all at once.

Hammer is gorgeously charismatic with bright blue eyes and a perfect confidence that invites the viewer to gawk. Chalamet plays Elio very endearing, ripe for pain and drama as he loses his innocence.

When it comes time for Oliver to leave, Elio's parents recognize how close they've become and encourage the "special friendship" (as Elio's dad calls it). The two have one last getaway together and then Oliver returns home. Elio is heartbroken, but seems realistic about the separation.

In some ways, this is a very basic story of "the one who got away," when circumstance guides lovers' decisions more than their hearts, leaving a hollowness that will never be filled. In other ways, this is a very complex story about homosexuality, age difference, geography, religion and society.

Either way you choose to see it, it's (beautifully) heartbreaking.


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