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Call Me By Your Name delivers a breathtaking performance

A transcendent love story that tops all romances

 

Photo courtesy of Plymouth Arts Centre

Since Call Me By Your Name’s release at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, it has received well-deserved Oscar buzz and has subsequently received multiple Academy Award nominations. The film has been nominated for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song, and Best Picture—and none of these come as a surprise. In what is a beautiful and rich film about love, director Luca Guadagnino has created a breathtaking adaptation of André Aciman’s novel by the same name that is pure, organic, and unapologetic.

It’s the summer of 1983 in north Italy, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) is spending his summer days, as usual, in his family’s 17th century villa. Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American college graduate student, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio’s father with his studies. In what seems like the shortest summer ever, Elio and Oliver find themselves entangled in the poetry of love that appears to last a lifetime.

The title of the film, Call Me By Your Name, is a subtle play on words. Guadagnino utilizes fruit as a metaphor to describe love and the bittersweet feeling of first desire between two people. A critical moment in the film is when Oliver, Elio, and Elio’s parents are gathered in the study. Together, they discuss the origin of the word ‘apricot’ and its long-disputed and unsettled history, as the meaning of the word has been adapted in numerous languages.

This idea is reiterated after Oliver and Elio sleep together and they have an intimate talk in the morning where Oliver asks Elio to call him by his name. Just like the apricot, a name has roots that extend within someone’s experiences to the people they touch. And every time someone’s name is spoken, they take in who they are, just as when someone bites into an apricot they take in the fresh juices of its sweet flavor.

The real star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Timothée Chalamet, who portrays Elio with grace and elegance. Audiences can truly identify, feel, and understand why his character does what he does. Chalamet’s character is sophisticated when it comes to piano, history, and speaking multiple languages, but he is not versed in the ways of love. Audiences can see that as Chalamet wears vulnerability, passion, and desire like a second skin. This plays well with Armie Hammer’s character, Oliver, who is mysterious and radiates a magnetism that is both charming and captivating. The chemistry between Hammer and Chalamet is authentic and intimate and together they create a story that is timeless and transcends all other romance films.

While there are many historical LGBTQ+ films that capture the beauty of young, gay love, what is truly inspiring in this film is the allure of exploration and how the film ends with a twinkle of bittersweet hope.

Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age love story that is full of cinematic and romantic bliss. It is frank about adolescent love and lust as it explores the ecstasies, jealousies, melodrama, innocence, and pain between two people that come along with a new romance.

Paired with the tasteful and colorful setting Italy, the film rolls by at a slow, lingering pace, but doesn’t need to go faster for audiences to fully realize Elio has grown into a complex and confident young man in the film’s remarkable and heartbreaking final shot.

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