Summer love with a twist is how director Luca Guadagnino makes viewers dive into his 2017 Sundance hit Call Me by Your Name. The press it received at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017 established its desire to be requested for a more substantial release nationwide. Now nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet) at the Academy Awards this March, it is easy to see why everyone has declared it a masterpiece.
The film is centered around Academy Award-nominated actor Timothée Chalamet, whose character Elio is a young man who spends his summer in the Italian countryside with his family. His father, a professor of Greco-Roman Culture, selects a student to spend the summer with his family and work alongside him. Armie Hammer, known for lead roles in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Birth of a Nation, plays Oliver, a charming American student who catches Elio’s eye.
Despite a prominent age gap standing between Elio and Oliver, as well the idea that neither is open about their sexuality, a thorny love story still blooms. From spending days exploring Crema, their Italian town, to watching archaeological dives for Oliver’s work, and resting in fields in the midst of bike rides, you see a visual of how strong love can be, especially for the first time.
Beyond the story, how Call Me by Your Name was filmed seems potentially even more critical. Every scene feels vital within those two hours, capturing the essence of a lazy, almost-carefree love mid-season. Shots of nature and sounds of birds and insects make the summer daydream vivid for the audience. Specific choices such as vibrant short summer apparel, the color of flesh visible in most scenes and various landscaping shots make it easy for anyone who knows the season well to feel at home.
The praise for this film goes beyond its outstanding actors, renowned director and various set members; it is virtually entirely about the screenplay and how under- told the romantic story of two gay men is. The movie depicts how some individuals felt about needing to hide their sexuality in the 1980’s. While some are accepting of others, there are still those who are not accepting of themselves. Guadagnino displays how intoxicating their love was so well, making it seem only that Elio and Oliver’s voices were the ones which needed to be heard. The now famous line, “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine,” shows how infatuated they both become not only with each other but also with the capability to act upon their mutual attraction and later adoration.
The last scene brings the heart-wrenching yet uplifting film to a close while giving Chalamet’s character a moment to breathe. Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays Elio’s father, makes it evident that he knew about Oliver and Elio’s love and never wished to interrupt knowing how much of Elio’s heart belongs to Oliver. His speech at the end is what every child who struggles with identity and acceptance could hope to hear. What is most chilling is Chalamet’s last moment with the camera; his eyes desperately wanting to break the fourth wall. This cinematic wonder is receiving the acknowledgment it deserves, setting a precedent for the film industry regarding romantic dramas.