Saturday 24 March 2018

Call Me By Your Name ★★★★★

At the end of 2017, The Guardian ran a poll amongst all their UK and US critics in an attempt to determine the best film of the year. A list was created of the UK critics’ choices, and another for the US. While the lists differed largely, one film took the number one spot in both lists. Directed by Luca Guadagnino and adapted from André Aciman’s novel by the legendary James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name is utterly deserving of the unanimous praise.

It's the summer of 1983, and 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is spending the hot days “reading books, transcribing music, swimming at the river and going out at night”. Living with his family at their villa in Italy, he soon meets Oliver (Armie Hammer), a handsome doctoral student who's working as an intern for Elio's father (Michael Stuhlbarg). As the days go by, Elio and Oliver discover the beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.

Let’s just get right down to it. Call Me By Your Name should’ve won Best Picture. Chalamet should’ve won Best Actor. Hammer or Stuhlbarg should’ve been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and one of them should’ve won. The only award the film took home was Best Adapted Screenplay which, although a top-tier award, is an insult to a film that deserved to take home a full house. But at the end of the day, it’s not about the awards. It is about longevity. Five points to anyone out there who can tell me what beat Citizen Kane to Best Picture. A film’s staying power is far stronger than the amount of Oscars it scoops, and Call Me By Your Name will surely have a long life. While Guadagnino and the cast have confirmed they’re all on board for the recently greenlit sequel, it certainly will not top this.

So what makes it so good? It is really difficult to put into words. This is a film that lives and breathes. Every character, and the stunning location, is so beautifully realised that it pulls you right into its world and doesn’t let you out. The six weeks that the film covers seem to go by in real-time when you’re watching the film, and that is not a negative. It’s not to say the film feels six weeks long. It’s to say that the absorbing power of the film is so incredibly strong that you can feel the smouldering heat form the Italian sun, and you can feel the emotion between every single character. When Oliver and Elio discuss how they met toward the end of the film, their reminiscence is shared with the audience. You, too, look back on their meeting many weeks ago, and are moved by how their relationship has blossomed.

Every frame of this film is beautiful. Every scene is perfect. Every line of dialogue is brilliant. Sufjan Stevens’ two songs written for the film are among his best work, and two of the most moving love songs you’ll ever hear. This film is a rollercoaster. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll feel every emotion in between. Call Me By Your Name is that rare film that is impossible to criticise. I couldn’t find an issue with it if I wanted to, and I certainly do not. This is a hypnotic film that deserves every bit of praise bestowed upon it. Watch it, and bask in its glory. You’ll be glad you did.
Call Me By Your Name is the best film of 2017.

Sam Love

Call Me By Your Name at CeX

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