Back in 2016, Moonlight, an LGBT film, was released and later crowned best picture at the Academy Awards and now 2017 follows this up with a strong Oscar contender in the form of Call Me By Your Name, a very different LGBT film with a unique coming-of-age story to tell. The film is directed by acclaimed Italian director Luca Guadagnino, set in 1980’s Italy it follows 17 year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) who bonds with his fathers new American research assistant Oliver (Armie Hammer) and begins to explore his sexuality in a relationship that will change their lives forever. This romantic drama is in every sense of the word a beautiful and powerfully emotional story that capitalises on strong meaningful performances and charming dialogue to explore a wholly engaging relationship.
Visually this movie is undeniable exquisite as the way it is shot allows you to take in all of the stunning scenery of the rich Italian setting and it essentially transports you to Northern Italy. The use of natural lighting and calming indoor and outdoor settings around the Italian villa that the majority of scenes take place in is phenomenal. The set design can only be described as utterly beautiful, it’s a very inviting and relaxing setting that works wonders in bringing you into this world and this home that is quite foreign yet at the same time very familiar. The heavy use of foreign languages such as Italian and French between the main cast adds to the authenticity of the setting. English is used when the story calls for it and it’s used very naturally in conversation. The score and sound design is another fantastically executed part of the film, a number of scenes are accompanied by a light piano-based score which sets the tone of every scene it is featured in poignantly. Other scenes that don’t utilise a score are filled with the sounds of the surrounding environment and most of the time, that’s all it needs.
Performance-wise the two leads in Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer are spectacular from beginning to end. Chalamet puts in an emotionally riveting performance that grabs you and takes you on this coming-of-age journey of self-exploration. It’s an Oscar-worthy performance that will at the very least be recognised throughout the 2018 award season. Hammer completely disappears into his role and offers up a sense of this confidence-rich charisma that makes his character unique and very entertaining to watch. His relationship with Chalamet is essential in this entire film working as intended and it plays out greatly. Even Michael Stuhlbarg who plays Mr Perlman has a number of great scenes and important interactions with both Elio and Oliver, and could have a supporting actor nomination on the cards. The film is shrouded with incredible, meaningful dialogue from beginning to end and just when you think it has nothing left to offer it hits hard in the closing moments. There is a certain monologue in the final moments from one character that brings everything full circle and will probably emotionally ruin you. It focuses on themes of love and acceptance and it’s my personal highlight of the entire film.
So in the end, the only minor gripe I had with the film is that the first half or maybe the first act at times felt a tad lengthy as the whole movie is a slow build. But what it takes time building in these earlier moments makes the later sequences that much better. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this movie is beautiful in its story, its setting, its score, it’s a very emotionally driven film and it’s a strong best picture contender at the Academy Awards.