Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
There is a scene towards the end of "Call Me By Your Name," Luca Guadagnino's intimate and piercingly heartbreaking adaptation of Andre Aciman novel of the same name, in which a university professor in Italy sits with his puffy eyed 17-year old son for an unexpected talk. The dad, played with the utmost care and respect by Michael Stuhlbarg, tells his son that it's okay to love and to feel pain, because without having pain, it means you haven't lived. He's referring to his son's "special friendship" he had with his handsome 24 year old intern from the U.S. who stayed with them for the summer and has just returned home.
It's one of the best scenes and moments in cinematic history.
It's a scene filled with so much paternal affection and relatability, I don't think there was a dry eye in the theater, myself included. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer play the 17 year old and 24 year old respectively. The title refers to a game the two play. They say their names opposite each other, as a kind of a secret emote to their relationship. Taking place in the beautiful landscapes of some of Italy's most gorgeous countryside locales, Guadagnino hits the perfect amount of beats and palabale chemistry that makes "Call Me By Your Name" a rare treat. And it adds his name to the pathos of some of the best directors working today, and captiluates his film as one of the best romantic dramas of the century.
Mr. Perlman (Stulberg - who between this, "The Post," and "The Shape of Water" might find himself in three best picture contenders) is a very renowned archaeologist, who enlists in an assistant every summer to help with his scavenges. His son, Elio (Chalamet) tends to keep busy, with his creative bursts of piano tunes, or finding himself in a good book. But when Oliver (Hammer) arrives as the new intern, it's almost clear the two have some attraction to each other.
In the beginning, it's a game of cat and mouse. The two fight for affection, get jealous when the other talks to a girl, and steal spotlight whenever possible. Oliver, with his many quips of "later," is soaking in his surroundings while Elio is slowly discovering himself and his feelings. It's amazing to watch him go through these changes, and Chalamet perfectly encaptures the raging hormones of young love, and forbidden desires. Hammer is also on fire, in one of his most down to earth and real performances yet.
But it's not just the performances that stand out, from the lavish costuming, encompassing musical score, and rock-solid chemistry, everything connects on the level it should in the film. It's a shame that I hadn't seen "Call Me By Your Name" sooner, because it would've made my top films of 2017, so consider this it's submission for an honorable mention. It's a film of overwhelming empathy and playfulness that slowly manifests into gratification that eventually becomes an extremely satisfying romance. A