Movie Review: Call Me By Your Name
Director: Luca Guadagnino
by Jason Koenigsberg
Call Me By Your Name is a real quagmire. This movie makes its viewer sit through almost two hours of banal dialogue and aimless scenes, but the final fifteen minutes are absolutely enthralling and some of the most compelling from any movie this year. That makes Call Me By Your Name tough to recommend but as long as the viewer knows what they are in for, it may prove to be a rewarding experience. Perhaps they can find more sympathy and admiration for these characters than I did.
The opening shots are photographs of ancient sculptures over the opening credits. Obviously these will have more significant meaning later and serve as a motif for our main characters hidden romance. Armie Hammer plays a grad student sent to live with a professor and his family at their summer home in Italy. He meets and falls for the professor’s son. Call Me By Your Name takes place during the summer of 1983 and the filmmakers have a keen attention for detail with the costumes, sets and props throughout the film. This movie is a romance about identity, religion and being an outsider as much as it is about sexuality. In some aspects it does not even matter than the main characters are in a homosexual relationship. They are both stuck trying to adapt and conform to what society says they should be and not what their heart is telling them.
The biggest flaw of Call Me By Your Name is that it moves incredibly slow. This movie is more plodding than a sloth. It’s admirable that the themes about conforming and relationships feel as relevant for 2017 as they did in 1983, one might just wish they picked up the pace a little during some scenes.
The script was written by James Ivory who has written and directed many outstanding drama’s like Maurice (1987), Howard’s End (1992) and his towering achievement The Remains of the Day (1993). Call Me By Your Name is similar in theme and tone to those films. It is just not as compelling and just never reaches the emotional impact it should have. That is until the powerful ending.
Not until the final moments when Michael Stuhlbarg gives a touching speech in the films penultimate scene and a final shot that made the entire audience sit in silence during the films closing credits. A fly on the screen implies how love is often fleeting. Is that enough to warrant a recommendation? For me it is not, but I would love to watch the final scenes again to behold a glimpse of cinematic greatness. Call Me By Your Name catches moments of cinematic greatness, just not a full two hours.
Despite Call Me By Your Name’s flaws it would be nice for its screenwriter, 89 year old James Ivory to finally win an Academy Award for his efforts. Check out the trailer for The Remains of The Day (1993), his most powerful film in my humble opinion.