Call Me by Your Name Review (2017): Summer Dream

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name has received a ton of Oscar buzz early this year. I won’t drag it out any longer: it deserves all the applause it has been getting. The movie is gorgeous, the acting is phenomenal, and the story is simple yet delivered with honesty and realism. It’s really easy to run out of superlatives when talking about the movie.

Timothée Chalamet stars as Elio Perelman, a reserved 17-year old staying with his parents at their Italian villa for the summer. Summer each year, Elio’s father, a professor of archaeology, takes in a student to help out with academic paperwork, giving him lodging at their villa. Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American graduate student, has been selected this year as the assistant. The movie starts with a car arriving in the villa, Oliver getting out of the car, and Elio peeking over the window in his room. Over the course of the lazy summer, Elio and Oliver develop a relationship both didn’t expect to prosper.


Shot in the beautiful Italian countryside, Call Me by Your Name indulges in European sensibilities. Everything from the villa setting to the trilingualism of the Perelmans to the choice of music evoke a sense of vintage class. The movie draws the audience in instantly, making us feel as if we’re in the same position as Oliver, guests in the Perelman villa for the summer.

The film feels very lazy, but in a good way. It doesn’t rush in its storytelling, including a lot of shots of Elio and Oliver literally lazing by the poolside. It’s very refreshing in its realism. Summer in the 1980s, what else is there to do but to bide time?

Apart from the gorgeous direction and cinematography, Chalamet and Hammer give showstopping performances as the introverted Elio and confident Oliver. Chalamet gives a quiet performance as Elio, full of small mannerisms here and there and actions that I think would demand a read of the book to fully understand. Though shy, Chalamet’s Elio is captivating, always drawing the scene to himself, even if the Italian countryside backdrop tries to steal the spotlight. You only need to see the final scene of Elio to conclude that Chalamet has a very bright future ahead of him. Oliver plays more of a supporting role in the movie, yet he serves as a perfect foil to Elio. Hammer’s Oliver is very hard to read for both Elio and the audience.

In terms of story, Call Me by Your Name doesn’t really reinvent the wheel. It’s a love story at its core. However, the true test for a love story is that the audience must be able to relate to the characters and feel for them. And Call Me by Your Name passes this test with full marks, bringing the audience on a roller coaster of emotion in its two-hour run. You’d wish the movie would never end.

Call Me by Your Name is simply a gorgeous movie that deserves to be seen.

Rating :

2 thoughts on “Call Me by Your Name Review (2017): Summer Dream

  • January 7, 2018 at 2:41 am

    I’ve been hankering to see the film at the cinema since last year after the first time I stumbled on the trailer on Youtube, and while being clueless of all the accolades it’s been reaping. I was solely smitten by the music (Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata excerpt in the trailer strangely enraptures), the idyllic European countryside as the setting, and the foreign language inclusion (Italian, I presume). It was still several months before the international releases, so I pacified myself with the book. And it was a very difficult read, especially when nearing the end, as it was very emotionally charging. I put off reading the last 20 or so pages, and prodded a friend to finish it off for me and tell me how it went. (Would’ve been easier to know that way however it may have gone.) And music is a bit substantial in the book especially those pieces by Brahms, an iconic German composer of Romantic period whose some compositions have repeatedly made me cry and reflective. (I haven’t seen the film yet and heard the music it includes, but I will once it becomes available at the theaters on the 31st.) I don’t want to dispense so much of “Call Me by Your Name,” but what I think the story does tell its audience is that love may come gender-blind, and regardless of gender (even of age), once – only once – in a lifetime, two people may find each other and feel that they are deeply and inseparably, though intangibly, connected, even if they may not be (or cannot be) become a lifelong couple. It is a poignant tale of coming-of-age, romance, and loss. Heartbreaking, yes; sublime, nonetheless.

    • January 31, 2018 at 7:36 am

      Follow up: Went to see the film today in the movie theater for the second time. 😊 Was able to catch an advance screening Monday last week. Both in Greenbelt. Everything was worth feeling again. The flirting. The uncertainty. The romance. The shame. The pain. And the outer steamy and scintillating foreplays. God, after watching his “I am Love” and “A Bigger Splash,” I was a lot grateful that “Call Me by Your Name” fell too in the hands of Luca Gudagnino. Now, whenever CMBYN comes to surface, two names immediately pop in: André Aciman and Luca Gudagnino. Ok, and two more: Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. But I’ve come to be more enthusiastic with the creators. Just how are they able to conceive and pull together such a masterful work that effectually touches the heart, maybe the soul? Actors, of course, play too an equally huge part. Timothée and Armie are very natural for their roles. Underneath, however, my elation from the beautiful experience lies a profound despair from how the movie ended, because in reality that is often what happens. The need to go on and the need to feel, even the need to suffer. Hence, the captivating monologue by Elio’s dad (where you hear your seatmates sniffling). For a lot that scene was the most emotional, but for me, it was when Elio called and asked his mom to get him. Ahh, it was, aah, piercing! It felt as if he’d given everything to Oliver and had nothing left for himself. (Train rides seem to not end well in romance movies.) The ending was powerful, but that “call” scene was when it really hit me. Nope, I didn’t cry, not a teardrop. But I was upset enough to stall and walk home when I saw it the first time. Thankfully, it was pretty late at night because all I wanted was to be alone.


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