Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Running Time: 132 mins
Call Me By Your Name is an Italian film about a seventeen year old who develops a passionate relationship with a dashing man who arrives to stay at his house for the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy.
While this is a very good drama, with strong performances and utterly gorgeous visuals throughout, it’s not a movie that really managed to take hold of me in the way I felt it was trying to do. As a coming-of-age drama, Call Me By Your Name works very well, but that side of the story is often overshadowed by the less-than-stellar romance, which seems to lack the intense passion that would have made it a more emotionally enthralling watch.
Throughout, there are two major stories that develop over the course of this movie. On the one hand, you have the story of a teenage boy, played by Timothée Chalamet, continuing to experience puberty as well as a whole new lump of feelings and emotions that turn his world upside down. In that, you have a very good coming-of-age story, as we watch him transform significantly from being a rather hot-headed and boisterous kid to a far more worldly and battle-hardened man.
The development of his character throughout is undoubtedly the film’s strongest point, and it all comes to a head with an emotionally riveting and very poignant finale, the point of the film that offers up the most emotional power.
The other side of the story is one of a summer romance. Now, you can see elements of the romance that link in with the coming-of-age story, particularly the differences in attitude towards a relationship between the teenager and the older man (something often reminiscent of one of the major themes in Y Tu Mamá También), and that part of the romance is definitely intriguing.
However, I felt that the story was really lacking in the deep passion that could have made it so much more powerful. Summer romances are often the most passionate sort, with a whole burst of emotion coming in such a short time, and then ultimately having the brutal parting come the end of the holiday. Despite that potential, however, I really felt like this film missed out on giving us that nostalgic and beautifully elegant summer romance that we deserved.
While director Luca Guadagnino does a beautiful job at crafting the film’s setting, with the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy blended with nostalgic 1980s fashion and music, as well as the fact that it’s filmed on 35mm film, that passion doesn’t quite translate into the central romance, largely because the two leads feel a little mismatched.
Yes, there is an element of the story that aims to show the teenager’s immaturity in falling for someone who may not be so suited to him, however the two actors in Chalamet and Armie Hammer don’t always seem to work so well together either.
It’s a shame, because Chalamet’s individual performance is excellent, and although I wasn’t quite as enamoured or fascinated by Hammer as was perhaps intended, the fact remains that there’s something that just doesn’t quite work between the two, and I couldn’t quite get on board with their romance throughout, something that had a big impact on my emotional connection to the story.
Overall, I liked Call Me By Your Name, largely for its lush visuals, production and directing, as well as its fascinating coming-of-age story, but I felt that it just missed the mark on delivering a truly passionate and fully engrossing summer romance story, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.