Oscar Film Reviews : Call Me By Your Name

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By Eish Sumra 

 

Nothing can quite prepare you for Call Me By Your Name. Having read the flowery, often ostentatious book over winter break, I was not tempted to see the film, believing it would be an even more exaggerated, lustful romp through Andre Aciman’s lush Italian setting. Yet something magical happened here. Where the book underwhelmed and over-explained, the film focused on things unsaid. Where the book tried to weave the long summer days together into a tiresome love affair, the film displayed the relationship between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) as a brief, but intense moment of honesty and passion. Simply put, the film is breathtakingly human. In fleeting glances and subtle shots, the film shows the natural elements of young love in all of its glory, but unlike other romance films, this one feels real, raw and unbearably candid. It will break your heart.

Chalamet’s nuanced, angsty portrayal is nothing like the book. With the unreliable narrator of Aciman’s novel out of the picture, Chalamet flourishes with a character brooding with teenage frustration and an insatiable lust for rich experiences. You believe every expression, every word, every delicate sigh of Chalamet’s performance. One must be tempted to believe that if Gary Oldman’s performance in Darkest Hour was out of the way, the Oscar would be in the bag. Nevertheless, Chalamet gives a memorable stint as a character I was expecting to despise, instead, he makes everyone see a little of themselves in his emotions and his transparent sensitivity. This man has truly made an impression.

Hammer is less revolutionary but was a perfect casting. His slightly arrogant swagger and all-American boy attitude fits Oliver well. Michael Stuhlbarg is dynamite in a role that doesn’t seem anything remarkable, until his final scene. When you think back throughout the film, his subtle, paternal gaze seems deeper and more complex than you first think. The penultimate scene of the film where Chalamet and Stuhlbarg discuss the summer romance without saying anything tangible is stunningly done and proof that what makes this film great is the acting. 

This is not a gay movie, this isn’t even a romance movie. It’s a film meant to remind audiences that no matter how things end, the pleasures and joys of one's life will always outlive and outweigh the sadness. The overall sentiment you are left with is that feeling something, anything, is one of the greatest human experiences one can have. No matter how much suffering it can cause you once that feeling is gone.

FilmEish Sumra