Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg.
It’s Jan. 4 in Trenton, New Jersey.
Most of the day has been spent shoveling because of a massive snow storm that covered the sidewalks and streets.
In the evening, I went sledding with my old pal and we got a thrill ripping down a padded down staircase in a toboggan.
The next day, nearly all the streets were plowed, which presented an ample opportunity to attend a movie, which I was so badly craving to do.
It was a 40 minute drive to get to the theater, which was tough in 20 degree, limb-numbing weather.
The wind was gusting around my car, but luckily the heat hasn’t broken yet.
At the theater, I sit in Call Me by Your Name, which is set “somewhere in Italy” during the hot summer.
The blistering sun beams from the summer sky.
People walk around the cobblestone streets in loose short clothing.
Dips in the lake are encouraged throughout the day to keep cool. Bike rides are a nice way to get around town, with the cool breeze running through a cyclist’s hair.
Can I get on a plane to “somewhere in Italy” now?
Set in the early 1980s, someone who vacations with his family “somewhere in Italy” is Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet.
Elio does what most kids do in any easygoing town: playing F.R. David on a walkman, dancing at the outdoor club some nights, having a cigarette and scotch once in a while, and cooling off with a drop in the lake every day.
But things change for Elio when Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, lives with his family for six weeks to intern for Elio’s father, played by Michael Stuhlbarg.
Slowly, Elio becomes attracted to Oliver and the two bring more heat to a scorching Italian summer.
Beautifully shot by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom with a nice soundtrack, Call Me by Your Name focuses on trying to find an answer through all the confusion and takes it’s time with slow pacing.
Also, may I point out, the film is nominated for three Oscars, which include awards such as Best Picture and Best Actor for Timothée Chalamet.
Wherever “somewhere in Italy” is, Mukdeeprom has gotta let us know. Mukdeeprom’s cinematography transports the viewer to a calm environment that oozes summer.
The small Italian town has rustic architecture and tight alleyways as the sun beats down on the gray cobblestone streets. A short bike ride outside the town and one will see the sprawling lakes, where the crystal clear water glistens under the shining moon.
It’s an environment made for summer perfectly captured by Mukdeeprom that woos the audience, especially in the chill of winter.
The soundtrack compliments Mukdeeprom’s camerawork with bumping eighties hits and dreamy piano tunes.
When the camera focuses on an electric outdoor dance floor or Elio with his headphones on, expect the stylings of Bandolero to take control of your hips.
Then for a bike ride along the winding plains or walks around the open backyard, your mind will drift in a state of comfort with pieces composed by artists like Bach.
In addition to the songs picked by Robin Urdang, there are two original songs written and sung by Sufjan Stevens.
Stevens’ whispering songs come down the stretch and seamlessly capture the atmosphere. If you can’t make it to the theater, at least buy the original soundtrack.
At the center of the cinematography and soundtrack is Elio, who battles internally and externally, because of his uncertainty about his sexuality.
Elio initially seems to be like any other seventeen-year-old boy who chases around girls on hot summer nights.
However, once Oliver comes into Elio’s life, everything drastically changes.
Not only does Elio look at women differently, but he can’t even eat a peach.
The discovery of Elio’s sexuality overwhelmingly provides a lot of questions for the teenager, like how to conduct himself or if his way of life will be accepted by others.
As for Elio’s admiration for Oliver, it at first feels unrequited.
Elio wants to profess his attraction to Oliver, but he’s not sure if he’ll accept it.
After the two spend time together and get closer, Elio doesn’t know how far it should go.
In the early stages of finding one’s sexuality, there is of course a plethora of questions:
Will I be accepted among friends and family? Is this who I really am? How should I live my life? Should I keep my sexuality a secret or open?
In addition to these questions, there’s the thought process of handling one’s first love:
How far should it go? How much should I invest into a relationship? Can I get through a broken heart?
It feels like an endless marathon of a Sixty Minutes interview, spinning through one’s head, but inevitably, life doesn’t hand out answers.
One must go through an age of self-discovery to find themselves and that’s what Elio encounters.
It’s hard to answer all the Sixty Minutes questions, thus Elio’s understandable confusion.
Considering this is a pivotal moment in Elio’s young life, the pacing goes slow to take in his thought process.
There’s no sense of urgency, drama or climactic scenes.
It feels like everything happens to Elio naturally. The story line mirrors the relaxed atmosphere.
Sure frustration and sensual tension builds, but it occurs smoothly.
It’s nice to sit back and have no forced drama or big arguments.
This is an organic look into a young man discovering an unknown part of himself.
Following Call Me by Your Name it was back into the blistering chill, but a part of me felt warm.
Yes, the journey to a sizzling Italian summer helped, but Elio’s story took a piece of my heart.
It was calming to follow Elio’s story. There were some tears and laughs, but Elio’s journey to realization felt satisfying in the end.
IMAGE TAKEN from whereyouwatch.com