BY FIEL ESTRELLA
Based on the novel by James Ivory, Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name centers on Elio, a sensitive young man on the cusp of adulthood, and Oliver, the grad student who’s come to live with Elio’s family as an intern for his father. Elio and Oliver’s interactions are stiff and distant, cautious at first—everything’s mundane and ordinary. But as they grow closer, their complicated, fervent relationship proves to be anything but.
The film is like honey; one could swim in it and get lost in its slow-moving ripples.
It opens on a bright afternoon in 1983, with Elio and his friend Marzia lazily letting the empty hours pass in his room on the day Oliver arrives. Raw and intimate without being intimidating, it immediately evokes a timelessness that recalls turn-of-the-century European films The Postman and The Disenchanted. A certain quality that never leaves, and only intensifies.
This movie is summer. With tight, sunlit shots, aided by details such as film grit and the ever-present, ever-buzzing flies, it just feels warm and tangible—the complete opposite of glossy.
Guadagnino decided to set it in the idyllic Italian countryside, which proved to be quite the backdrop for the slow burn. Unfolding at first as a series of slice-of-life non sequiturs, the editing appears to be haphazard at times, which only adds to the urgency. It builds on tension, and yet, when it reaches the fever pitch, it is unhurried and languid all the same.
When you’re young, they say falling in love is reckless, the type that crashes and burns. But there is nothing reckless about the look in Timothée Chalamet’s eyes as Elio watches Oliver dancing with a girl at a party, or as he stares at a raging fire after receiving a phone call. This look—weary yet tender, unfiltered pining—it’s calculated, intent. And it leaves absolutely no room for doubt as to why Chalamet is a current awards season favorite for his performance, most recently garnering an Academy Award nod for Best Actor, or why the the film itself has earned four nominations, including Best Picture.
When you’re young, they say falling in love is reckless, the type that crashes and burns.
You find yourself at a loss, perhaps even teary-eyed, at the sight of somebody unraveling with that kind of longing. Anyone who’s ever been in love is familiar with the development of a crush, the denial that comes with it, and the growth of it into something uncontrollable, until it consumes whomever harbors it. It’s in kisses, swimming, feigned nonchalance, leaps of faith, murmured confessions—all set to music by Sufjan Stevens, no less.
You will completely lose it after, listening to Elio’s father talk about identity, affectation, and emotion in his study. He tells his son he’s allowed to take things to heart, but to keep his heart open. He tells his son it was something special.
So if you must, let yourself feel the feeling for a little bit longer.
Catch Call Me By Your Name exclusively at Ayala Malls cinemas starting January 31.