What is it about Italy that makes people fall in love? Is it the weather? The countryside? The language? I really don’t know. I was only in Italy for a weekend and all I did was play softball. But it was a beautiful country!
Elio (Chalamet) is a 17 year old musical wiz. He lives with his parents in a small Italian town where the only signs of life are usually in the local tavern. As summer begins, a car brings the tall, handsome Oliver (Hammer) to the house, where he will serve as Elio’s father’s research assistant. Of course this means Elio having to move out of his room to another, which he eventually shrugs off. Like Oliver, Elio and his family are Jewish, though they don’t go out of their way to announce it (according to Elio, his mother likes to say that they are “discretely” Jewish). As the summer, and their friendship, progresses, they will discover they have much more in common.
A beautifully told story about discovering love, “Call Me by Your Name” is buoyed by the performance of its two lead actors. Hammer, who you may remember as BOTH of the Winklevoss twins from “The Social Network,” shows a side I’ve never seen. He makes Oliver both confident and unsure, worried that what is growing between he and Elio may harm the young man. As Elio, Chalamet gives a true star-making performance, a boy, not yet a man, learning to deal with feelings he doesn’t understand.
The script, adapted from the Andre’ Acimen novel, is written by three-time Academy Award nominated director James Ivory, who was so instrumental in the success of films like “The Remains of the Day” and “Howards End.” “Call Me by Your Name” actually plays like a Merchant/Ivory film – brilliantly performed and produced. This is a story of love, though even those involved are unsure of its consequences. As a character says in the film, “cinema is a mirror of reality and it is a filter.” Just like life.