Chew's Movie Reviews - Call Me By Your Name

review by Gary Chew

By Gary Chew | January 27, 2018 |

I had sat for nearly half the running time of Call Me By Your Name before I finally realized what other actor the young man in this film … Timothée Chalamet ... brought to my mind. Yes, none too soon it came to me: Elizabeth Taylor! And … as she appeared in the 1944 film National Velvet. Liz was about 12 then. Holy Aphroditus!

Chalamet, like Taylor, is beautiful. He's perfect in the role of Elio, an introverted 17-year-old who is a smart, spoiled, mama's boy and internally bursting with teenage hormones. Especially when Oliver (Armie Hammer) shows up for a six weeks summer stay at Elio's parent's Northern Italy vacation retreat. Oliver is a doctoral candidate from the U-S, and has come to assist Elio's father, a university professor (Michael Stuhlbarg), with some research. Elio must give up his room to Oliver for the stay. But their upstairs rooms are adjacent and they share a bathroom.

Immediately after Call Me By Your Name began, I couldn't get Stealing Beauty out of my mind. That's Liv Tyler ... directed by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1996 ... coming for a summer stay in Tuscany with super artistic/intellectual folks sitting around in the warm Italian sun; some wearing clothes or bikinis or thongs ... and others not even that.

Stealing Beauty is your basic, really fine heterosexual sort of film with Ms. Tyler's character returning to Italy to reconnect with a boy she fell in love with earlier on … and also find out just who her Daddy actually is among the sophisticates gathered there taking summer residence.

Elio's Daddy is a super daddy. So is his Mom (Amira Casar) .. uh, a super mom. Oliver and Elio open with getting to know each other as a couple of straight males might. But subtle moments slip by that indicate Elio is rather internally taken with the older, taller, but just as beautiful Oliver. But Oliver's is a more Slavic beauty.

This is a film by Luca Guadagnino. The script was adapted by James Ivory, which drew from a novel by André Aciman. The picture is character-driven and zips along at the speed of a large beach turtle edging itself along a Mediterranean shoreline. The natural beauty of locations used in Guadagnino's film are startling and breathtaking, just like those in Stealing Beauty. What's different is that one really gets to see (a lot) how shapely the legs of both principal actors (Chalamet and Hammer) are. That's in contrast to the striking face and voice of Ms. Tyler in deep conversation with a terminally ill English playwright done by Jeremy Irons. Director Guadagnino also provided us with an earlier film called A Bigger Splash, though it was a smaller splash than Call Me By Your Name has made so far.

Master Chalamet has gotten an Oscar Best Actor nod for doing Elio and the same from the Golden Globe people. He also appears currently in a secondary role as romantic and alluring … but more for the girls, I'd guess. That's Greta Gerwig's loudly buzzing Lady Bird. Gooo-Oh Greta!

Venturing a guess: Chalamet won't win the Best Actor Oscar in March but -- at only 22 -- he should be seen on movie and television screens for years to come. He might just have as much success as another striking, super-confident, self-absorbed actor of the early Fifties who deserved more time with us called James Dean. But I wouldn't hold my breath about Chalamet's career longevity.

Since the Oscars are at hand, I'd lay money on Daniel Day-Lewis garnering the Best Actor nod, but not so much the movie he's ending his acting career with: Phantom Thread. By a mile, the Best Film Oscar of 2017, should and will go to The Shape Of Water with Guillermo Del Toro taking an Oscar home for his directing it. Del Toro also did that at the Golden Globes. Richard Jenkins, no doubt, showed me the Best Supporting Actor performance of 2017 and Alexandre Desplat has the inside track to get the Best Score Oscar for The Shape Of Water, just as he did at the Golden Globes. Frances McDormand is a cosmic force in Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri. But Sally Hawkins is my personal fave, although she might not be appreciated enough by the Academy since she had so few lines to memorize in her powerful performance in The Shape Of Water.

Copyright © 2018 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved. 


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