My Favorite Movies – Call Me by Your Name (2017)

21 May

By Tanner Smith

WOW, 2017 was a great year for movies! Get Out, The Disaster Artist, It, The Big Sick, Lady Bird, Logan, Split, Last Flag Flying, War for the Planet of the Apes, Brad’s Status, Columbus, and The Meyerowitz Stories–and I’m going to also talk about “Brigsby Bear” and maybe “Ingrid Goes West” at some point. HOW did this happen??

I often wondered if Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name is truly one of my new favorites or simply a great film with some of my favorite moments in it. But I realize the moments make the movie, and they keep me coming back to it.

Also, the overall feel of the film keeps me coming back to it. This movie is set in summer 1983 and it truly feels like summertime, like the equivalent of a lazy summer afternoon where you either want to do nothing or try something new.

Side-note: I’ll analyze the atmosphere because I gave up trying to analyze the meaning of the flies that keep buzzing into the scene every now and then–honestly, with each viewing, I kind of forget they’re there (except for the one in the last shot–that’s unavoidable).

“Call Me by Your Name” is a film about finding hidden passions within one’s self, and nature can allow those things we keep deep within ourselves to shine through. Think about it—have you ever gone away somewhere like the woods or the boonies or an isolated country home and felt like you were inspired to pursue something special that you weren’t entirely sure about before? Well, in this film, the countryside of summer-1983 Northern Italy and the boredom surrounding it pushes the characters on their journey of self-discovery.

It’s even paced like a slow, worry-free summer day. Guadagnino is patient about showing us what the characters are going through while letting us take in the beautiful scenery & environment. There’s nothing to do in this location anyway (except to discuss philosophy, music, art, and such), so there’s nothing to hurry about either.

Now, what about the lovely moments that cause me to return to this film every now and then? Most of them have to do with music, particularly the placement of the wonderful songs by Sufjan Stevens–Futile Devices, Mystery of Love, and Visions of Gideon. The “Futile Devices” scene is beautifully shot and emotionally impactful, as Elio (Timothee Chalamet) waits and longs for for Oliver (Armie Hammer) one night–and the song is beautiful. And the final scene, featuring the song Visions of Gideon, is a one-take closeup of Elio as he contemplates what he had and what he will always remember–this scene is why Timothee Chalamet, one of the best young actors working today, got the Oscar nomination, and he plays it perfectly. (It’s also nice to see him give a quiet little nod to “Boyhood,” another favorite of mine, at the end of the take.)

And another favorite moment comes before that amazing final shot: a scene in which Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) tells his son that he knows what he and Oliver had experienced that summer, that he could have experienced something similar when he was Elio’s age, and that it’s important to learn and grow from it instead of move on too quickly. It’s a beautifully written and acted scene.

Overall, “Call Me by Your Name” is a moving, beautiful film about love, desire, and heartbreak–three things we can all relate to. Sometimes, it is a little slow, but I think taking it all in makes the experience all the more enthralling and the memorable moments all the more memorable. That’s why I call it one of my new favorites.

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