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REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name

By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 11/22/2017

REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name

In a time before international travel became accessible to the masses, the cinema was the destination for those who wanted to experience foreign climes. Audiences would sit entranced by adventures set in exotic, far-off lands, even if they were blissfully unaware that they were actually watching a few ferns strategically placed in a studio backlot.

Movies have long ceased to function as surrogate holidays, but every once in a while one comes along that truly gives you the feeling of being transported to another place. Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name is one such film. Guadagnino not only takes us to a vividly tangible representation of the sun-baked Italian countryside, but back in time to 1983 with one of the most convincing depictions of that decade, one which never relies on cheap pop culture totems. When the closing credits roll (and believe me, this is one movie whose credits you’ll want to stick around for), there’s a palpable feeling of loss, like packing your suitcase on the final day of that one great summer trip abroad.

Everyone has that one summer that stays with them forever. For 17-year-old Elio (newcomer Timothee Chalamet - instant star), it’s the summer of 1983, when worldly and hunky 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives to intern with Elio’s professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg). Elio is dating a pretty young French girl, but soon loses interest when Oliver is placed in an adjoining bedroom, the two young men sharing a bathroom.

REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name

At first Elio attempts to cover his affections for Oliver by constantly complaining about his boorish American behavior, and when Oliver attempts to form a bond through their shared intellectual passions, Elio teases the older man, like a girl slapping her schoolyard crush. Eventually, Elio can no longer hold his peace and confesses his feelings to Oliver, and the two men embark on a passionate affair.

Some quarters may complain that despite its gay theme, Call Me by Your Name is yet another story of privileged white men, but this is arguably its greatest strength. There are plenty of queer dramas set in communities that aren’t so tolerant as the intellectuals of Guadagnino’s film, and while many are successful at what they do (Moonlight and God’s Own Country two recent examples), they can often feel like watching a suspense story rather than a romance. Frankly, gay characters on screen are long overdue some privilege.



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Call Me by Your Name isn’t about the fear of coming out, or the threat of being unwillingly outed. Those fears and threats exist, but it’s primarily about the fear of losing your first love, and perhaps never feeling such passion again. Elio knows his relationship with Oliver has a sell by date, as his lover is due to return to the US once the summer ends, but he’s also fearful that it may be his one chance to live the life nature intended for him.

Like Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock or Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, time is the antagonist of Guadagnino’s film. In a monologue that will surely become a staple of acting textbooks, Elio’s father encourages his son’s affair, mourning his own wasted youth and remarking how we all reach a point when nobody will want to even look at our bodies, let alone touch them. In one of those rare extended takes that serve a psychological purpose rather than merely an aesthetic one, Guadagnino holds his shot after Elio spills his guts to Oliver and is cruelly forced to wait for a response as Oliver pops into a nearby shop. Guadagnino’s refusal to cut gets us inside Elio’s head, and the tension is unbearable, the statues and church spires of the scenic square the scene plays out in seeming to look down on Elio in judgement.

Much talked about will be a sequence involving a peach. It’s the film’s core scene, as it represents the disparate approaches both men have to their relationship. Caught pleasuring himself with the fruit, Elio turns red-faced, and is mortified when Oliver brazenly takes a mouthful of it, peach juice and ejaculate dripping off his chin. For the confident Oliver, sex has all the import of a mid-day snack. For Elio, it’s become the centre of his world, now that he’s discovered life beyond his books. Is Oliver exploiting or educating his younger lover? The film leaves that up to the viewer to decide.

Call Me by Your Name captures the thrills and uncertainty of that first romance, that special summer where you discover all the things that will later bring you despair and heartbreak, but enough joy to make it all worthwhile. Were it not for the cursed ‘Awards Season’, this could have been the arthouse hit of the summer.

4 1/2 Stars Out of 5

 

Directed by: Luca Guadagnino

Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel





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(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in concert with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra featuring Conductor Constantine Kitsopolous on Saturday January 6, 2019 at 3:00pm. Tickets range from $35-$125. 
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(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum brings back a film series from Exhibition on Screen beginning on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 with the feature film Degas: A Passion for Perfection.  Two additional films will also be shown: Young Picasso, on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and Rembrandt on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.  All films will be screened at 7:30pm in the Bickford Theatre.  
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary.  The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings. 
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(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.
Kean Stage Hosts "White Christmas" Sing-Along
(UNION, NJ) -- Kean Stage hosts a White Christmas Sing-Along on Sunday, December 16 at 3:00pm.  Gather your family and friends for this beloved 1954 holiday film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. You’ll enjoy singing along to Count Your Blessings, Snow, Sisters and, of course, the iconic White Christmas. And don’t worry if you don’t know the words – the lyrics will be shown on the screen.


REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
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REVIEW: "Shoplifters"
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.
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REVIEW: "Halloween"
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Event calendar
Thursday, Dec 13, 2018


MUSIC

PROJECT/OBJECT @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

JERRY BLAVAT @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 12:00pm

VIENNA BOYS CHOIR @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:30pm

BRIAN FALLON @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 8:00pm

The Irish Tenors Holiday Celebration @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm

BREAKING BENJAMIN @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 7:00pm







THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

Hudson Theatre Works presents "And My True Love Gave To Me" @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 8:00pm


FILM

On the Map @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 7:30pm


MISC

Holiday Open Mic Night! @ Black Box Performing Arts Center, Teaneck - 7:30pm

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