Call Me by Your Name review: The summer of desire

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted in black and white) Timothee Chalamet attends the Mayor Of London Gala
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted in black and white) Timothee Chalamet attends the Mayor Of London Gala /

As the Oscars grow closer by the day, the talk of awards frontrunners seems to be the norm for the moment. Who will be lucky enough to get nominated for those prestigious Oscars? Who will win out of those nominations? Right now, the leading frontrunner seems to be the newest film by Luca Guadagnino: Call Me by Your Name.

There’s arguably no other filmmaker working today with the dedication towards showcasing the beauty of Europe that director Luca Guadagnino possesses. Having created two other films in I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, which also use the lush and detailed setting of Europe to tell similar stories, Luca Guadagnino is establishing himself as a noteworthy director, in terms of pure visual beauty.

Even if somebody were to not like Guadagnino’s films (I myself am not the biggest fan of A Bigger Splash), it’s hard to argue that Guadagnino doesn’t put considerable amounts of effort in making his films as visually appealing and calming to look at, almost like a form of therapy. He treads familiar territory, this time with actors such as Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg, with his newest film, Call Me by Your Name.

The third and final installment in Guadagnino’s Desire trilogy, Call Me by Your Name, explores similar themes of love and desire as Guadagnino’s other two films mentioned. Although not entirely known among the film community, Guadagnino’s 1980s romance drama is sure to propel Guadagnino and company into international fame, considering the fact that it is arguably the film with the most Oscar buzz out of any potential contenders, with the exception of maybe The Shape of Water. But is all the Oscar hype just that? Is the film really as good as numerous critics have claimed?

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A Summer in Italy

Guadagnino’s film of a summer romance takes place in the 1980s, settling as the backdrop for the Italian setting. Within this setting is the Perlman family: Mr. and Mrs. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and their son, 17-year old musical prodigy and introvert, Elio (Timothee Chalamet). Mr. Perlman lives life as a professor of archaeology, which means that the man has considerable amounts of paperwork to do. Enter Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year old grad student from America who comes to live with the Perlman family for the summer while helping Mr. Perlman with his paperwork. Over the course of the summer, Elio and Oliver begin an intimate bond that begs the question: How can one balance the pleasures and consequences of desire and temptation?

Yeah, Call Me by Your Name is not your typical romance, with fun and quirky situations for our characters to encounter and overcome. Playing more as a coming-of-age story mixed in with romance, the film explores the truthful events that typically surround each of us in our youths in someway. Call Me by Your Name is less of a film on the LGBT community and more on the emotional growth and development of a boy at a crucial time in his life. These factors are what make the story such a riveting one to watch unfold. It very much feels like a real-life story playing out before our eyes, complete with passionate romance, some laughs, and a LOT of heart. Even if you’re not a fan of romance films, this is definitely one you can start out on.

“Call me by your name…”

Call Me by Your Name‘s engrossing and powerful story is elevated thanks to the strong and year-best performances from its small but incredibly watchable cast. Mr. and Mrs. Perlman are the rare example of a lovable and heartwarming family that doesn’t feel fake in the slightest. Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar are absolute balls of charm and warmth in this film, bringing a level of authenticity that adds to the film’s realistic setting. Whether they sit and listen to their friends rambling on with the funniest expressions on their face or they simply cozy up on the couch while Mrs. Perlman reads a story, this is the kind of family that one wishes they knew and were acquainted with. Stuhlbarg, in particular, shines as the quick-witted and loving father, with a show-stealing scene towards the end of the film that may or may not steal an Oscar nomination from Armie Hammer.

Speaking of Armie Hammer, wow, does he ever impress here! I’ve always been a fan of Armie Hammer and I’ve seen his potential as a great actor in films like The Social Network and Nocturnal Animals. In Call Me by Your Name, Hammer thrives as the laid-back social butterfly, Oliver. Hammer portrays Oliver with such a carefree personality that it’s easy to see why he’s such a likable person, especially with the Perlman family. He’s smart, funny and incredibly fun to watch onscreen, but in no way is he portrayed as this object of perfection. He’s a human character with similar flaws in accordance to his self-control, rounding out an interesting and complex character performed by a very game Armie Hammer.

The real star of Call Me by Your Name is young Elio himself, played by Timothee Chalamet. Elio is the character to follow, as the film is told very much through the boy’s perspective. We get to follow Elio on this summer of desire, passion and discovery, as he finds out more about who he is and how to deal with such a revelation. Whether he’s having an entertaining back and forth with Oliver, with whom he shares tremendous chemistry with, or sitting in his room reading a book, Elio is showcased as a shy, but ultimately reckless boy who has much growing up to do. In no way is this considered to be a truly negative flaw, as it adds to the overall impulsive personality of Elio, whom Timothee Chalamet portrays with such realism and charm that it’s hard not to attach to Elio immediately. Chalamet transforms the character into his own and gives one of the absolute best performances of the entire year as a result. If anybody can possibly beat Gary Oldman and/or Daniel Day-Lewis this year, it’s Timothee Chalamet.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 09: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted in black and white) Timothee Chalamet attends the Mayor Of London Gala
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 09: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted in black and white) Timothee Chalamet attends the Mayor Of London Gala /

“…and I’ll call you by mine.”

More than just a performance-driven film, Call Me by Your Name exceeds in its presentation, with the story being set to the backdrop of the Italian countryside, which Luca Guadagnino captures beautifully. There are shots of the Perlman family taking an archaeological tour and the presentation of the water and old artifacts founded by the family look like something out of an Earth documentary. Even just scenes of people sitting around and eating are almost mesmerizing to look at, with the food and background of people walking and talking giving an extra sense of focus, adding to the peaceful and beautiful nature of the film’s universe.

If anything, Guadagnino spends so much time focusing on the lush setting of the film that at times, it almost seemed like a bit too much. It wasn’t incredibly excessive by any means, but sometimes it felt as though the film forgot it was a film with a story about two men bonding over the summer. To put it simply, the film meanders quite a bit, especially in the first act. I understand the necessity of it, letting the time and summer pass by while Elio and Oliver grow closer, but I could’ve personally used more time with Elio and Oliver as they develop a close relationship over the summer. With the film being over 2 hours as is, I feel there could’ve been more time used to develop the relationship just a tad more. It’s not a major complaint, as everything else in the film is done so exceptionally, but it’s noticeable enough to mention.


Despite its occasional aimlessness in its visual presentation, Call Me by Your Name is a film that’s easy to call a modern-day classic, despite its release just a short time ago. Luca Guadagnino’s tale of desire in the Italian summer of the 1980s is a beautiful, touching and heartbreaking coming-of-age film that treats its audience and story with considerable care and admiration. Guadagnino does not preach his opinion on the subject matter in the film, but rather presents it through clever symbolism (look for the flies) and brilliant filmmaking that stands as one of 2017’s strongest showings.

Next: The 30 Best Films of 2017

Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg are revelations, as is the script by James Ivory and the beautiful direction of Luca Guadagnino. The film itself is not an absolutely perfect specimen, as its occasional aimlessness may or may not bore some audience members. But beyond that, Call Me by Your Name excels not only as a fitting Oscar film, but a must-watch for anybody who has experienced the whirlwind known as teenage self-growth and young love. It is one of the best films of 2017 and one that I can’t wait to see again.

Plus, the film earns extra points for Armie Hammer’s dancing skills.

Final Verdict: 9/10

Call Me by Your Name is out now in theaters in a limited-wide release.