I'm a fan of André Asimov's 2007 novel Call Me by Your Name which came out in 2007. Hence, I was quite interested when I found out that the inspiring Italian director, Luca Guadagnino, undertook the difficult assignment of adapting it for the big screen.
I wrote about his stupendous film I Am Love in here as well. You may see that review here.
Quick note: if you drive a lot and like to use that time by catching up on books, might I recommend you get Audible in case you haven't done so already? Get the first book on them, and let it be a reading of Call Me by Your Name by Armie Hammer. Hammer plays the character of Oliver in the film.
If anyone can do justice to a layerd literary text, it would be Guadagnino. Much like a veritable renaissance man, he has the ability to understand so much and, more importantly, manage to break complexity down in a seemingly facile and natural way.
And Oh My!!! Is this a beautiful film!
From the opening credits to the final credits as the main character, Elio starts to process his heartbreak to the sound of Sufjan Stephens' song "Visions of Gideon," this film is a tour de force.
You know how sometimes you're in the presence of the kind of art that moves you so much you find yourself incapable of processing anything else? Even the weight of a little leaf would be enough to overwhelm you. Well, that's precisely what watching this film will be like. At times, we need to allow ourselves to be exposed to such things. They will force introspection upon us especially when we may have gone at a faster pace through life and haven't quite taken advantage of the little but precious moments that punctuate our very humanity.
This is not just a film about a love story. It's bigger and so much more nuanced than that. This is a story about art, love of art, and how the arts can serve as a vehicle for understanding of self. From the visitations of Dante's Inferno, Canto V, to Paul Celan's haunting "zwischen immer und nie", Heraclitus, the sculptures of old Greece, the music of Bach, Stendhal's Armance etc., this film is a love story to the ingenuity of the human mind, soul, and heart. It has something for everyone and one is bound to react to it.
Few directors know how to translate sensuality in a manner than feels genuine, natural, and full or resonance. Guadagnino is one such a director. Granted, Guadagnino would not have been able to translate the book as expertly as he did, had he not cast the right performers.
Timothée Chalamet's rendering of Elio is something we see in a screen once in a generation. Having seen thousands of films, having studied film, especially the likes of Fellini and Bertolucci, this particular picture is, truly, inimitable. And much of this has to do with the at-times-unbearably beautiful performance of Chalamet.
I could say much about this film. Instead, I'll strongly urge you to watch it and let the beauty of art, music, love, the scenery, and the sensual words lavish you with the kind of attention that few things in life will manage to do justice to.
It is that good!