• Daniel Rae

Call Me By Your Name Review

"Call Me By Your Name", Frenesy Film Company, 2017

Luca Guadagnino's celebrated benchmark of gay cinema is a hypnotically entrancing one. Soundtracked by perhaps my favourite batch of original songs for a movie I've seen, 'Call Me By Your Name' looks upon a blonded life in a way that is deeply moving, without drawing too much attention to the slightly pretentious indie-film sensibilities it's obviously helped crafted by.

This may be perhaps the most sensual thing I've seen in film; and I say 'sensual' rather than, say, 'horny', as the director has a very keen eye on what stimulates the senses. There is a noticeably admirable amount of detail when it comes to how the director has characterised the world that backdrops the coming-of-age shell of the story, all of which never fail to stimulate the senses in a comfortably warm kind of way. There is a vulnerable beauty to how the film longs for the primal-like comfort of affection, which comes in the form of the dynamic shared between Timothee Chalament's 'Elio' and Armie Hammer's 'Oliver' that shapes the emotional ambiguity of the story. The absence of any secured closure between their relationship not only gives the screenplay plenty of room for the mediative visuals, shot like a time-capsule to an easier time, but presents the prefect stage to explore the misunderstood-teen trope under a more introspective light that second-guesses the 'swoon-worthiness' of the genre that often covers the conversation that the film takes the time to deconstruct: the controversy around the blatant issue of age and the predatory direction of Oliver, planting a melancholic seed that ripples throughout. Achieved through an understated approach towards the performances that bleeds effortlessly into the tenderness of the writing that does justice to every conflicted emotion that is felt, Guadagnino has a consistently firm grasp on the power of simplicity that grounds the more abstract themes of sexuality and time that lingers in the background. The profoundly personal edge that is felt throughout also proves as a testament to the novel's assessment of the past and the obsessiveness that comes from the what-could-have-beens that defines our youth and the relationships we once shared.

Aside from the obtuse structure of the narrative occasionally allowing certain tangents in the story to lead in unfulfilling directions, this is a profoundly romantic film that is simultaneously unashamedly lustful and elegantly beautiful. Pinned together by small, intimate motifs that loop back round and a tight-knit cast who help tie together the dramatic elements in a tangible way, this is an air-tight love story that hits familiar beats in a way that is continuously raw and unfiltered.

4.5/5 Stars

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