‘Call Me By Your Name’ Review: An Oscar Bait Masterpiece

★★★★☆

 

Acclaimed italian director Luca Guadanino has made his best film yet with ‘Call Me By Your Name’, a beautifully directed masterpiece that, while not perfect, it comes awfully close. 

The story, set in the early 80’s in Italy, follows Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, and his family receive Oliver, an american played by Armie Hammer, as a guest in their country home. And the rest would be better to not give away.

One of its few flaws comes in the beginning of the picture – if I hadn’t seen any trailers going into the movie, I wouldn’t have known what the movie is actually about until about 1/2 into it. And while it certainly is commendable that Guadanino tries to keep it as unexpected as possible, it ends up feeling more like it takes forever for the film to go anywhere, which might make the experience a bit boring in some parts. However, the stunning visuals kept it interesting.Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is definitely a talent to keep an eye out.

The director made the choice to showcase as much as possible of the everyday actions of the main characters, even leaving the shot going of just them swimming for example. It works extremely well, and it gives the feeling that you’re watching real people.

Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 10.26.55 PM

But there is someone that shines even more than the director himself, in my opinion: young actor Timothée Chalamet, who is a revelation as Elio, definitely giving his best performance ever. He manages to stand-out so much with a very subtle performance that works incredibly well. Not to be overlooked is Armie Hammer, who also turns in an incredible performance, although I believe he wasn’t as challenged as Chalamet given that Hammer has made similar roles before. Their chemistry is undeniable, and makes a lot of scenes that could go badly work amazingly well.

Michael Stuhlbarg, as Elio’s dad, is also great, as is Amir Casar as his mother. Stuhlbarg in particular, does his best performance since the Coen brothers’ A Single Man, and is definitely a player this awards season.

Another minor flaw I have with the movie overall is that I don’t think it’s time period was utilized as well as it could have been. I sometimes forgot it wasn’t set in present day, and I would’ve liked for the script to include more references to it, as it would’ve made the story more grounded.

Overall, while it is undeniable that it’s an Oscar bait film, I think it elevates beyond that thanks to its incredible cast and amazing direction, and while the screenplay by James Ivory is where I believe the few flaws I have stem from, this is one of the best films of the year.

 

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