It’s the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who’s working as an intern for Elio’s father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
Call Me By Your Name has been receiving a wealth of praise and awards nominations over the past few weeks and it’s not hard to see why. This is a very quiet and slow burning film that I found very relaxing to watch. It stars Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer who both give arguably two of the best performances of the year.
This is one those movies where you feel like you are watching real events, rather than a movie. Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight both had this similar quality last year. Films that are like this are always interesting to me because they can make you feel like more of an onlooker into someone’s life. CMBYN feels very much like this as you feel like you are just on hand for things that happen in the story. For example, the sounds of cars and water when the characters are in the pool are not lowered so you can hear the dialogue. They are kept at full volume to add to the realism of the film.
I didn’t find myself falling in love with Call Me By Your Name as much as others have this year. It is easy for me to acknowledge how well made it is and the wonderful performances by the two leads, but I found many scenes out of place and the main characters a bit hollow. I would have liked to learn more about our two main characters, things like their background and what drives them to make the decisions they do when they know that they could be detrimental to their current situation. This is film can also be painstakingly slow, sometimes you have to power through the slowest moments of the film to get to its more interesting subject matter.
Overall I would say there are many more positives than negatives with CMBYN. Hammer and Chalamet are performing at the highest level and their chemistry is the best part of the film. I can see why this film is quickly becoming beloved in film circles and I can understand why, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as a I know others have. Call Me By Your Name is a must see for those interested in awards season, but I think you can find a little more heart in other nominees.