Director: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Lady Bird is the coming of age drama of the year for you if you graduated in the early 2000s and loved Dave Matthews, Call Me by Your Name is for those who were teenagers in the 80s and fell in love over the summer with someone who was destined to leave & break their heart. Incidentally, both feature Timothee Chalamet, and both are excellent, ranking among the very finest of 2017. While Lady Bird is extremely honest and relatable, Call Me by Your Name is more romanticized and melancholy, but both hit you in your most vulnerable places, leaving an imprint that won’t soon spring back.
Elio is on vacation with his multi-cultural family; they speak English, Italian, French, and a little German in a pinch. His father is an esteemed professor, and each summer, when the family travels to Northern Italy, a research assistant makes an appearance to stay for a few weeks and to help with linguistics, relics, and notation. The newest guest, Oliver, is an amiable American who slides right into the routine, which is half vacation, half archeological dig. Elio falls for Oliver hard, but even in his progressive family he fears the taboo nature of his desire for this older man, as he also fears his own body and the unquenchable urges issuing from it.
From the director of A Bigger Splash comes another, lush, unpredictable, sexual sizzler, but while that film dragged with the weight of its narrative, this one soars with the hopes of youth. You don’t have to relate perfectly to Lady Bird or to Elio in order to appreciate their stories or to understand the drama of their growing up, they present their problems in such a way that each of us can see pieces of ourselves in their experiences. Call Me by Your Name is lovely, just lovely, from the music to the scenery, a pure delight to view. And its characters are immaculately 80s, so extremely well-represented by the actors, so well written into their places. There is a scene at the end, a conversation between Stuhlbarg and Chalemet, father and son, that absolutely blew me away, and might be one of the strongest, most honest, touching moments in cinematic history. That might sound over-dramatic, but that’s this film, an ultra-emotional moment in time that has shards for all of us to claim as our own.
My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆