Call me by your name is an outstanding coming-of-age film of a gay adolescent. Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is a teenage high-flyer. Multi-lingual and with outstanding skills in music he has a hot-house life with exceptionally talented people. His American father (Michael Stuhbarg) is a professor of archaeology, who owns a very large house in Northern Italy, which they use during the summer vacation. Each year a favoured graduate student is invited to the house for the long vacation. On this occasion it’s Oliver (Armie Hammer).
Elio’s circle of teenage friends mirror his own wealth and talent. Especially important is Marzia (Esther Garrel), a French girl, who’s blatantly in love with Elio. He’s unnerved by this yet is prepared to discuss sexual possibilities with his father. Her love for him is consummated but there’s a noticeable lack of passion by Elio, who’s meeting peer group expectations rather than having a passionate affair. This is quite unlike Elio’s passion for Oliver with whom he cannot spend enough time. Every opportunity is grasped and ultimately he has his reward. Oliver, as the older man living in Elio’s home, is reluctant and worried about breaching boundaries but they are breached and Elio’s love is consummated.
Timothee is exceptional in his role as Elio. The utter plausibility of his passion pours from the screen without a false step. His father, the professor, is less plausible. A stagey speech- soliloquy?- by Elio’s father endorses Elio’s love affair with Oliver whilst being tinged with regret that Elio was chosen rather than him. This speech underlines the homeoerotic analysis of Ancient sculpture the professor engages in with Oliver, which can now be seen as a failed seduction ploy. Oliver’s measured seduction is suitably tentative and captures the moment as to who is seducing whom.
A wonderful coming-of-age film which is well nigh faultless.
Why you should watch this film: Timothee Chalamet’s performance is outstanding
Why you shouldn’t watch this film: It’s very, 1950s, timid when it comes to gay sex.
For a grown-up review see https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/26/call-me-by-your-name-review-luca-guadagnino-armie-hammer