Having partial Italian blood in my veins, I particularly enjoy when that culture gets some rare, overdue representation in cinema. Now, after the opening credits of Call Me by Your Name kick off the film’s wide survey of art history’s continual impact on Italy’s culture, temptation strongly urges me to book a flight to Italy! Director Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash) succeeds at raising immediate love for Italy’s artful history with a masterful focus on the little details crafted to immerse you into the Jewish-American-Italian-French family over the summer.
The production crew’s delicate artistry swells your eyes, thanks to Guadagnino’s relaxing artistic direction. The cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom overblows the sun’s highlights in the frame until the snow peacefully mellows out the inner chaos. The thin, loose fabric costumes designed by Giulia Piersanti practically weep while they turn their wearers into zombies decomposed by pain. To top it off, the calm dancing musical selection’s reflective piano tune juxtaposes the visualized teen angst.
Those small enriched elements craft the protagonist of the story, Elio, a teenager who hunches over the piano, overcome by his insecure fervor, his space evaded by flies, supposedly awaiting someone like St. John the Baptist to pull him out of his hell hole. Then once Oliver, the family researcher, comes to stay over the summer, he spends extra time in the backyard pool alongside his new friend, a confusing curiosity in mind.
With each performance fueled by the struggle against the anonymous, the two lead characters grow up over the painful season. The harsh summer weather outside seems to kill them both slowly in support to one of the feature’s many stated philosophies: “nature has a cunning way of finding our weakest spot.”
Though unfortunately, some cultural issues outside the visual cues still taint the experience, including a couple of stereotypical old, angry comic relief Italians who disrupted the natural flow of the genre. Oliver’s story also lacks enough establishment: where does his romantic infatuation to a seventeen-year-old boy originate? The closest thing to a justification about his romantic spark is the Jewish background they both share, which still lacks needed prominence within the relationship.
The two other female roles, Elio’s mother and girlfriend, seem to subsist just to comfort his pain, the mother in particular could have been written out completely without hurting the script. Yet European masculinity carries even greater problems in depiction. Oliver is the one representative of America, a country with a higher age of consent than Italy, so this film supposedly encourages pedophilia, as if the United Kingdom believes their legal system has a better understanding of existentialism than the United States.
Although, the homosexual love still rings true in its natural approach. It starts innocent enough as Elio and Oliver just so happen to share a bathroom, the toilet in plain sight from the bed’s perspective. As time goes by, the connection they share turns into one of forbidden fruit. In one scene, passion between the two brims in the majesty of the mural of Adam’s creation, in another, Olio’s loneliness resorts him to ejaculate into a cored apricot. The chemistry between Armie Hammer (The Social Network) and Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, Lady Bird) creates the impeccably heartful moments, tension set by emphasized distance in the framing.
But most of all, the technicians’ subtle cues acutely capture the essence of being a teenager trying to figure out sexuality: the crew dresses Chalamet to look scrawny in his wardrobe, his hair messed up, his strut insecure, as editor Walter Fasano (A Bigger Splash) completes it by lingering on the star’s complexion to show a teen's dim psychology. These elements, when together, stick hard into your arteries a good long hour after the motion picture’s emotive final frame.
Looking beyond the uneasy subject matter, a very plain application can be taken away: love hurts. Even I myself, a heterosexual, felt Elio’s heartbreak before, since an old desire to love a certain someone back in high school continues to hurt me today; I know loving somebody you cannot hold hurts more physically than emotionally. Despite those unpredictable moods, just remember: loved ones, including friends and family, not just romantical partners, are always there offer free hugs. These are the ones who most want to see the best come out of you and take action in your life to make sure you get to your highest point. This key takeaway of Call Me by Your Name reminds us all that whatever, however, you think, you deserve love.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
“Age of Consent in Italy.” Age of Consent. Web. <https://www.ageofconsent.net/world/italy>.
Call Me by Your Name. Sony. Web. <http://sonyclassics.com/callmebyyourname/>.
Myers, Kimber. “‘Call Me By Your Name’ Is More Than Just A Sensual Pleasure [NYFF].” Digital image. The Playlist. 6 Oct 2017. Web. <https://theplaylist.net/call-me-by-your-name-sensual-20171006/>.