"Daring to Desire"
A Review of "Call Me by Your Name” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Luca Guadagnino, Writers: James Ivory, Andre Aciman, Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen-year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father's research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.
Summer flings are well documented in American cinema. “Summer loving, happened so fast,” the kids of “Grease” sing. “Call Me by Your Name” attempts to put a modern twist on the well-known concept and asks us to stand in the shoes of someone trying to come to terms with his sexuality.
Armie Hammer plays Oliver, a research assistant called to a tiny northern Italian city. Timothee Chalamet plays a 17-year-old American named Elio who is summering with his parents when Oliver is called to assist his father. Immediately, we can tell Oliver is brimming with confidence. Elio, being at that awkward stage between his teenage years and adulthood doesn’t know how to respond to this self-assurance. But there is something inside of him; something calling him to be impressive.
It doesn’t take long for us to realize Elio is confused about his sexuality. He has a girlfriend in the village who he is getting closer to and more physical with after each encounter. There is also Oliver who he has a deep but confusing attraction toward. Anyone who is ever come out as gay, lesbian or an identity beyond being straight will easily relate to these moments.
Amid Elio’s struggle, a question is raised via a German text, “Is it better to speak or die?” For Elio, this means should he speak of his sexual identity or should he take it to his grave. During an afternoon spent with Oliver, he decides on coming out and being cavalier. With it, he is filled with confidence and nerves. He dares to desire and to be himself. As he does, we get a true sense of who Elio is.
Of course, we know summer flings end. This is where the real drama of the film begins. In lots of ways, it is a heartbreaking spectacle to watch. In lots of other ways, it is an amazing to absorb a character blossom and grow into a truer version of himself. For such honesty, this film needs to be seen.
Be good to each other,
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