Review: Call Me By Your Name
Ripe and fruitful and casually erotic, Luca Guadagnino's latest is a tender exploration of the loves that shape us.
It was E.M. Forster who famously said that it “isn’t possible to love and part,” though you might wish that it was. “You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you,” not really. Because love — real love — is eternal. On every song that was a hit that summer you first felt it, on every novel you read or place you visited, it remains embossed, sometimes faintly enough to give the impression that it might eventually fade. But it never does.
This sentiment lies at the heart of Luca Guadagnino’s wise and wonderful Call Me By Your Name. Set one balmy summer “somewhere in Northern Italy,” it charts the tender and tentative relationship that blossoms between Elio Perlman, a 17-year-old boy on the cusp of adulthood (Timothée Chalamet, in a searing performance), and Oliver (Armie Hammer), his father’s research assistant. As with all romances, they come together as one comes of age: slowly, surely, until the moment arrives when all of a sudden adulthood is all there is. But as their six weeks together come to a close, they are forced to part, leaving Elio — a genius in every regard — to learn the hard way that Forster is right. Love can’t be pulled out of you.
With a scrawny volatility that reminds me of myself when I was 17, Chalamet proves himself a tour de force, imbuing Elio with that indescribable feeling that comes with knowing your heart might break and you, the sucker, the fool who fell in love, will be unable to stop it. It is a quiet performance, an honest performance. It helps make Call Me By Your Name into the ripe and fruitful film that it is.