Romance can be exciting, playful, anxious and heartbreaking. It’s never always perfect, although there may be moments that certainly feel that way. All of these emotions and more are front and center in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name and its passionate romance between the young 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer). It’s an ambitious film that doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of love with some of the best performances of the year.
Every summer in the Italian countryside, archaeologist Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) invites an overseas graduate student to come and live with his family and assist him in his work for a couple of months, much to the resistance of his son Elio who has to give up his room for the new guest. The summer of 1983 is different however as Elio develops feelings for his father’s newest assistant, Oliver, who isn’t like any of the previous students who have come through his house. After some playful back and forth, the two engage in a passionate summer romance that neither of them want to see end.
Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful film that is championed by its two leads, Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. It’s a breakout performance by Chalamet in particular. His portrayal of a young boy who is still learning who he is and what he wants out of life is simply phenomenal. Elio is is much more reserved than Oliver and his carefree attitude, and yet he still has the courage to pursue a relationship with him. I will admit that the first half of the film gets off to a slow start as the two perform this playful game of cat and mouse, teasing one another to the point where the cannot stand to be away from each other. But once you become invested in the characters, however, it’s impossible to look away.
What makes Call Me By Your Name shine is how real the film’s relationship feels as it captures both the ups and downs of any true romance. You can see the passion in these characters and in every decision they make. Nothing ever feels like it’s been held back, leading to a much more authentic story.
Between his memorable supporting role in Lady Bird and taking the lead in Call Me By Your Name, Timothée Chalamet is having one hell of a year, and I can’t wait to see what he ends up doing next. In addition, Armie Hammer has stood out in every role he’s previously done but this definitely cements him as one of the greats. From the amazing performances to the gorgeous cinematography to even the brilliant sound design, it’s impossible to not fall in love with Call Me By Your Name.