Movie Review: 'Call Me By Your Name'

John Thomas

Plums, peaches and apricots hang heavily in the orchards, ripening to maturity in the radiant warmth of the summer sun. The orchards surround a villa in northern Italy where the Perlman family spend their holidays – Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg), his wife Annella (Amira Casar) and their 17-year-old son Elio (Timothée Chalamet).

As is his custom, Professor Perlman accepts an intern to study with him and live in his home for six weeks during the summer. This, the summer of 1983, the intern is Oliver (Armie Hammer), who has traveled from a small town in New England to study archaeology with the professor.

The brief initial meeting of this expanded family goes well, introductions are made and cautiously, Elio begins his study of the new intern. At breakfast the following morning the conversation is cordial, moving from work to play and the leisure-time activities enjoyed during the warm, languid days in rural Italy. There is swimming in the river, sports played on the green fields surrounding the villa and the occasional evening social events to attend. Elio says to Oliver, “I can show you around.” “That would be great,” is Oliver’s reply.

Days later Oliver has a bit of business to attend to in town – Elio volunteers to accompany him. The two set, out bicycling along country roads through shimmering fields of green and gold. On their return trip, Elio suggests they cool off with a swim in the river.

His interest in Oliver increases. Oliver appears indifferent to this attention although he himself has become increasingly fascinated by Elio; such a young person with so much knowledge of music, history, culture and so mature and inquisitive.

Professor Pearlman allows Elio to join him and Oliver on a visit to an excavation site in Lago di Garda only if he remains silent. He reluctantly agrees to the terms, and they set out.

His proximity to Oliver is worth the sacrifice of not being able to express his thoughts during the excursion. The sculpture being excavated from the lake is that of a Greek male figure which brings smiles of delight to the three men as they discuss the merits and beauty of the bronze statue. They decide to go swimming before returning home.

The fruit continues to ripen on the trees, some of it plucked and enjoyed in the moment, others preserved for savoring at a later time. As the fruit matures and ripens so does the relationship between the son and the intern.

They are drawn closer together by plan and happenstance until what they feel towards one another can finally be realized, accepted and enjoyed. Oliver whispers to Elio, “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine. Oliver, I remember everything.” Elio whispers back, “Elio, Elio, Elio, Elio, Elio.”

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, this is a “must see” movie running 132 minutes.


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