Saturday, 21 October 2017

Call Me By Your Name (2017 EIFF 8)

One of my favourite films at the EIFF, Call Me By Your Name has all the ingredients to be a four-star classic: Fantastic location, gorgeous cinematography, brilliant writing, vital story, marvellous music, terrific performances, and great directing. Unfortunately, one of the major characters (or the actor playing him) grated on me from start to finish, making it unlikely that Call Me By Your Name will make my top ten films of the year. 

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, who made the excellent I am Love and A Bigger Splash, and written by James Ivory (based on the novel by André Aciman), Call Me By Your Name tells the story of a 17-year-old boy’s first love. The boy is Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), an American-Italian Jew spending the summer of 1983 in northern Italy with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg) an eminent history professor, and mother (Amira Casar), a translator. Elio spends his days reading and hanging out with Marzia (Esther Garrel), who has strong feelings for Elio, but, for Elio, something is missing in his search for love. He finds out what that something is when Oliver (Armie Hammer), a young American scholar, comes to live with the family (to study with his father).

Chalamet is phenomenal as Elio, and Stuhlbarg stands out as the understanding father. The story is beautifully-told, with a depth and intensity of feeling that time and again reaches perfection, making this a very engaging film. Even the romance between Elio and Oliver often works well, in spite of the fact that it’s the character of Oliver who just didn't feel convincing to me. It might have been Hammer’s acting style rather than the character, but I couldn’t connect with him, as much as I wanted to (because otherwise the film was so wonderful). 

I  hope I have a chance to watch Call Me By Your Name again before I make my top-ten list in January to see if a second viewing changes my perspective. For now, Call Me By Your Name gets a solid ***+. My mug is up - highly recommended.

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