Call Me By Your Name review: Armie Hammer delivers a fine performance in this heart-wrenching, utterly brilliant piece of filmmaking, which may just be the film of the year.
Call Me By Your Name review by Paul Heath.
Slowly and quietly, Armie Hammer is fast-becoming one of the finest and indeed most exciting American actors of his generation. Following a superb turn in this year’s Final Portrait comes this heart-wrenching but utter beautiful complementary piece which, like Stanley Tucci’s period film, made its European debut at the Berlin Film Festival back in February.
In Call Me By Your Name, Hammer plays the role of the dashing young American Oliver, a twenty-something student who is spending the summer of 1983 ‘somewhere in Northern Italy’ with Michael Stuhlbarg’s Mr, Perman, along with his French wife, and their multi-lingual son Elio (Timothée Chalamet).
Elio is clearly bored of the sun-drenched rolling fields, the unlimited supply of cheap tobacco and the countless opportunities to go skinny-dipping in moonlit lakes with willing female companions. The arrival of Oliver changes all of that with the impressionable young seventeen-year-old clearly looking up to the handsome American both in terms of his strong-willed sensibilities, worldliness, intellect, and companionship.
The two form a quick bond, Elio slowly becoming intrigued by Oliver’s confidence rather than being threatened by it – though his charm is clearly starting to take effect the locals. Their two’s six-week summer together is clearly heading in the obvious direction, and they begin to while away the hours together, be it lounging reading literature next to the small ‘pool’ next to the Perlman’s summer house, or taking trips to run errands into the local town. Elio, while engaging in a relationship with the beautiful teenager Annella (Amira Casar), clearly has feelings for Oliver, and that attraction is definitely mutual.
Related: Final Portrait review
Call Me By Your Name is a stunning portrait of love and romance, expertly told by writer James Ivory who adapts from the source material – the original novel by André Aciman. From the wonderful opening title sequence, and throughout, the film is beautifully crafted, be it the near-flawless performances from its two leads, the skillful sun-drenched cinematography from Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, or the stunning largely piano-sourced musical accompaniment.
Armie Hammer excels as the alluring, likeable Oliver, but it is break-out star Chalamet who deserves the most praise here. The young actor, who we’ve seen in the likes of Interstellar and Men, Women and Children in the past, lights up the screen in every scene, and will both make your heart warm and ache in equal measure – especially during the climactic few scenes. Stuhlbarg is also nearing a career best here – and potentially a best supporting actor nod come early 2018 – as the likeable father of Elio who, in the last reel delivers perhaps the best monologue in any film we’ve seen this year. It’s almost comparable to the late, great Robin Williams’ wise ‘bench scene’ in Good Will Hunting twenty years ago – one which will have you reaching for those tissues if you haven’t managed to grab hold of them before.
It’s so hard to fault the picture. Obviously sharing themes with last year’s eventual Best Picture winner Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name is absolutely as good, and oh so much more. It’s difficult to find something in here for anyone to not to relate to – a meaningful, pure, romantic drama that focuses on a love that has no boundaries, the utterly raw and important character building qualities of life and the building of memories and experiences that should never be forgotten.
Pure cinematic perfection.
Call Me By Your Name review, Paul Heath, September 2017.
Call Me By Your Name was reviewed at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released across the UK on 27th October, 2017.