February 29, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Geek Review: Call Me By Your Name

A young man finds love in 1980s Italy in this coming-of-age drama.

Watson already covered Call Me By Your Name, so if you don’t like my reviews, you can always check his.  Both are basically SPOILER FREE.

Not that this particular film has much of a plot to spoil.  The plot is beside the point.

Call Me By Your Name is a coming-of-age character study about finding a first love, and all the joy and heartbreak that can go into that.  Set in the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy, the movie is about young Elio (Timothee Chalamet), whose mostly just hanging around his family’s villa for the summer with just his books, music, and a French girlfriend.  His father (Michael Stulhbarg) is a professor of what appears to be antiquities, and each summer he gets a grad student assistant, and this year it’s an American named Oliver (Armie Hammer).  Over time, Elio finds himself attracted to Oliver, and the feelings turns out to be mutual, though both lovers know it can’t last:  Oliver is only staying with the family for six weeks.

There’s a lot to admire about a movie like this.  Chalamet is spectacular as a young man discovering love, and his gradual change in feelings and attitude towards the more casual and worldly Oliver displays some real talent.  The close-up of his face during the closing credits as he silently reflects on his feelings and experiences say more about how he’s doing than any written dialogue could.  Hammer is also great, and when the two part at the end, even though he is only shown from profile, the audience can clearly see his own regrets and heartbreak.  The best may actually come from Stulhbarg.  For most of the film, he seems to be just a somewhat clueless father to his son, but then he has a magnificent speech at the end, setting himself in the pantheon of great cinematic father figures.  Stulhbarg, as Watson noted, has been having a good year, but I’ve been impressed by this guy since he got the staring role in the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and played the cold, calculating gambler Arnold Rothstein in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.  Films like this aren’t for people who want plot twists and surprises.  There aren’t any.  But if you want a beautiful examination of young love, you could do far worse but would be hard pressed to do better.  Nine out of ten fruit aids.