Friday, February 23, 2018

Call Me By Your Name

Timothée Chalamet as Elio in Call Me By Your Name
If you have not seen this masterpiece I urge you to do so. It is impeccably crafted in every way starting with the superb directorial work of Luca Guadagnino and script by James Ivory. Timothée Chalamet gives an Oscar worthy performance as Elio, the 17 year old teen who falls madly in love with handsome 24-year-old Oliver.

The film takes place during the summer of 1983 in very scenic northern Italy. Elio's father, known only as Mr. Perlman, is a highly respected professor of antiquities. The family owns a lovely 17th century vacation villa in northern Italy that they use during the summer and Christmas (Hanukah actually). Oliver (Armie Hammer), a graduate student and also Jewish, is visiting from the United States to assist Perlman. Mom, Annella (Amira Casar), is also an intellectual. Together, Mom and Dad are protective and supportive of Elio.

We also see that Perlman has a stern side. When a gay couple is visiting (one of whom is an esteemed economist), Elio refers to them as “Sonny and Cher.” This infuriates Perlman. He tells his son that it only reflects badly on him.

I have seen reviews claiming that Elio is very mature. That is false. It is an unnecessary and unwanted effort to approve of — or excuse — the relationship between Elio and Oliver. The film does not require us to judge the relationship. Elio is above the age of consent which is 14 in Italy. The age of consent in 40 U.S. states is at, or below, 17. There is no reason to make it an issue in spite of the age difference.

Elio is very intelligent. He speaks three languages fluently, transitioning effortlessly and seamlessly from French or Italian to English. Elio is also an accomplished pianist and very well read. However, that does not mean that he is mature. He does not fully understand or appreciate what he is feeling or ultimately trying not to feel. His emotions are like a bundle of raw nerves. Elio's sensitivity and innocence are an important theme throughout the film. As if to emphasize his innocence, Elio is barefoot and shirtless throughout much of the film. Attempts to rationalize the relationship are at the cost of fully appreciating the film's themes and many nuances. Avoid the distraction and appreciate the innuendos that Ivory employs in the right place at the right time.

Elio has sex with a girlfriend which he thoroughly enjoys but he climaxes prematurely. He apologizes but says “that felt great.” Apparently, Oliver and Elio have a great deal of sexual activity, most of which is out of our view. There is one scene where Oliver is pleased that Elio is hard, “again,” and proceeds to engage in oral sex (which is modestly filmed). That is as close as the film comes to portraying their sexual intimacy.

It is entirely unnecessary to determine whether Elio is gay, bisexual or straight. He falls madly in love with Oliver and that is all that matters. Elio is heartbroken when Oliver departs. He knew that the day would come but wasn't reconciled to the reality that Oliver was probably gone from his life forever.

The film comes to what I think is an unexpected conclusion. I will leave it at that so as not to spoil anything. The very final scene makes Timothée Chalamet worthy of an Oscar. He speaks no lines but we are compelled to watch him.

See this film! If it wins Best Picture it will be interesting to see if the religious right uses the award to disparage Hollywood as immoral.

Related content:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be civil and do NOT link to anti-gay sites!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.