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Call me by your name 2017











           A Sun drenched voyage to a small town in northern Italy that tells the story of a 17-year-old boy coming of sexual age during a 6 week visit by a strapping handsome sexually stunning American. Played with delicacy and charm by Timothee Chalamet as the 17 year old Eilio who is experimenting with his sexuality during a warm summer of 1983. He is ripe for this experimenting and does so with a lovely young Italian girl but his longing is reserved for the visiting American Intern and assistant Oliver played with subtlety and high sexuality by Armie Hammer.
                     Hammer has been picked for a 6 week internship to study, assist and also stay at the family home of Elio’s father who is a professor and expert of classical archeology and who every summer open their lovely villa to a lucky person who assists him in his studies.
                   This is the set up, the door that is not only opened to Hammer but also to us. Doors opening and closing play an important visual metaphor in the film, along with food (especially fruit), water and of course the ravishing Italian countryside. You can almost feel the warm sun and smell the ripeness of this beautiful landscape.
                 The family and Hammer are Jewish and this too plays an important role in the film, it’s part of their identity and is also an historical marker, this is after all Italy whose not too distant past was fascistic.
                      The American father and Italian mother played beautifully by Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar are both intelligent and sensitive parents and both give wonderful, authetic and warm performances especially Stuhlbarg whose monologue at the end of the film should give you chills and tear your heart apart at the same time possibly rending you in tears.
                   Elio is in many ways a typical teenager but he is also sensitive, a talented musician and avid reader who is also smart and sassy but is also a generous and kind young person  which we see in his relationships with his parents, the servants and his friends. This is a lovely performance that I think we will be viewing with relish for years to come.
                            The film is beautifully directed by Luca Guadagnino who also made one of my favorite films from a few years ago “I Am Love” which has some similarities with this film both in its themes and look and have at it’s core the poking and dangerous nail in the wall of “forbidden love” in “I Am Love” it’s adultery (and also a hint of lesbianism) and here its homosexuality.
                     The back and forth encounters between Elio and Oliver are playful and light as they go on bike rides, swim and attend dances but they are also very sensual, sexual and erotic and we are almost grateful when the two finally melt and meld into a sexual relationship. It might be troubling to some since Oliver is a few years older than Elio but its consensual and very real and is known and excepted by Elio’s sophisticated parents, although nothing is said. 
           There are many memorable scenes in the film that will be talked about and remembered for a long time to come including the final goodbye at a train station that is right up there with similar farewells in such films as “Brief Encounter”, “Summertime” and “Since You Went Away”.  The screenplay is by James Ivory no stranger himself to themes of male love and the look and music of the film are also beautiful and memorable. Is this the best film of 2017? It might very well be.    


This post first appeared on Ira Joel Haber-cinemagebooks, please read the originial post: here

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Call me by your name 2017

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