By Carlos Tseng
A triumph at Sundance Film Festival and an even bigger success at Toronto and London, Call Me Your Name offers a nuanced insight into the human condition. It is a film that satisfies those who have yearned for that deep sensitivity and grandeur, which can be hard to find nowadays. In an era dominated by superhero flicks, Luca Guadagnino has created a modern masterpiece which stands tall among its contemporaries.
It’s already been noted that it has been a great year for LGBT films, with releases like Carol (Todd Haynes) and last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Moonlight (Barry Jenkins). Call Me By Your Name tells the tale of 17 year old Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and his romance with 24 year old Oliver (Armie Hammer) during a summer vacation in North Italy. Much praise must go to the two leads, Chalamet and Hammer, who deliver heartfelt performances on difficult issues of love, friendship and lust. It’s sentimental but it’s that kind of turbulent romance that will grab you in ways which heterosexual romance films don’t. The uncontrollable, unconditional love Elio and Oliver have for one another is simply beautiful, but it’s also brand new for both of them. The film is a journey as Elio begins to transition out of adolescence, and Oliver, a confident American graduate, also realizes his own secret desires. It’s an unlikely friendship, and an even more unlikely romance but the chemistry is so believable, audiences will be simply stunned.
It must also be mentioned that there is still stigma against homosexuality in films. I certainly can’t imagine the reception Maurice received when it was first released in 1987, but the comments sections for online trailers and social media platforms have indicated that there is still some room for change in the way we perceive homosexuality. Luca Guadagnino is not alone this year as Francis Lee and Eliza Hittman have both directed acclaimed homosexuality-themed films, God’s Own Country and Beach Rats respectively.
But what makes Call Me By Your Name stand out from the crowd? It could be the acting or the script or the gentle soundtrack which accompanies the film. Ultimately, it is the masterful amalgamation of all the film’s separate elements. For those who are hesitant at the 130-minute runtime, fear not. There is every justification for this as Guadagnino exposes the fragility of human nature and the need for love and comfort. Call Me By Your Name takes off at a leisurely pace, but it is nonetheless raw and comes highly recommended. Brava!