The Setting is the Star
- Call Me by Your Name review by Mehitabel
If you like watching desperately precocious polyglot teenage boys get it on with rather dull slightly older men, with a lot of posing and life-of-leisure along the way, you will love this.It's the 80s. Elio is cool as a cucumber, absurdly confident for a 17-year-old, although this makes his final collapse into tearful little boy more meaningful. Trouble is, until that moment of real vulnerability, we have to ride along while he hangs out with his super-cool polyglot friends, scribes music dreamily in a castle, stares into the middle distance and almost has sex with a girl. This, apparently, is something to be dropped into the conversation at breakfast, as if you were talking about almost using the wrong toothpaste. Yup, THAT is how sophisticated and blasé these people are.
They are so sophisticated, in fact, that it's very hard to care about them. Dad is an academic specialising in ancient history or archaeology. Oliver, the object of Elio's middle-distance yearning, is his visiting American research student. Mum is cooler than cool and Vaguely Helps Dad, while looking wafty. They seem to exist on some hyper-perfect cloud, in their castle "somewhere in northern Italy". None of them has any flaws or stuffs up. Until Elio condescends to fall in love with Oliver. And it really does feel like condescension, from this oh-so-cool-and-poised adolescent. Until the very end, that is. And by then, for me, it was too late. I just wanted him to disappear up his own middle-distance. Dad's rather-too-contrived Beautiful Speech, also at the end, also came too late. It was also a tad nauseating. And the pace is slow. As if the director's so in love with Elio he's treating us to lotttttssss of him..
However, and it's a big however, the setting is just gorgeous. The Italian landscapes are lush and alluring and the mansion in which the Perfect People live is impossibly old and beautiful, with a river-fed Roman swimming-pool (what else?). All in all, it was the setting, and the odd sense of connection with the ancient past in which Dad specialises, that kept me watching. That, and the hope that in filmic eternity, super-smart Elio is now a sewer-cleaner in downtown Milan.
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful.
- Call Me by Your Name review by NL
I tried to watch Call Me By Your Name last night. It came highly recommended. It was nominated for four Oscars including 'best picture'.
I watched through the first 49 minutes, during which nothing happened, and no one said anything interesting or of any consequence. There was nothing at stake, and no reason to expect that anything good or bad might happen to any of the characters, so no suspense at all.
I then watched the rest of the film on fast-forward, checking to see if anything happened at any point. So far as I could tell, nothing did.
Why do critics like stuff like this? It was set in the 1980s (retro?), in Italy (Euro-chic?), with educated people (culture?), some of whom were Jews (ethnicity?), and it had some homosexuality in it (rainbow virtue signalling?), but no scene I saw had any consequence at all. Some examples:
An old man catches a fish. He shows it to a boy, who does a fish impression, then gives it to a cook. Later, the same old man says that he has fixed a bicycle.
Three people get in a car. They go to the sea to see a bronze statue that has been pulled up from the depths. They look at it admiringly.
The fish, the statue, the bike, are never mentioned again. They are of no consequence. They are not part of any pivotal change for any of the characters.
I don't demand chases and explosions, but SOMETHING has to be at stake, SOMETHING has to make me wonder what will happen next. I loved 'Brooklyn' - and that didn't have so much as a raised voice in it, but the events that happened to the characters in that were shown to us because they had effects on the characters, and the main character has a big decision to make, and we don't know which way she is going to go.
I want that bit of my life back. I want all the bits of my life back that I have wasted on pretentious meaningless films that critics and no one else likes.
5 out of 11 members found this review helpful.
A work of art!
- Call Me by Your Name review by TB
This film is the best film I’ve ever seen and I already know that nothing will top it for me. The reason being is that it’s not just an incredible film but it was also deeply affecting, emotional and relatable for me personally. However, even putting that aside this is a film that I defy anyone not to admire. It is without doubt the most beautiful on-screen love story you will ever see; starting with inquisitiveness, lust, infactuation and ultimately ending with pure love and heartbreak.
The scenery and cinematography are a wonder on the eye and the soundtrack throughout is not only beautifully poetic but poignant in relation to the scenes and moments that the songs and piano pieces tie into during the film.
The acting is nothing short of sensational by both leading actors, with the young Timothee Chalamat particular dazzling in a performance that entices every emotion out of you that his character is portraying and feeling. While the words spoken by Elio’s father in one of the closing scenes, must be one of the best and most moving set of words you’ll ever hear.
It would however be serving the Director (Luca Guadagnino), the actors and the soundtrack (especially the three songs written for the film by Sufjan Stevens) a huge discredit if not to appreciate their vision and talent in making this a true masterpiece.
I have watched it a number of times and when breaking down each scene, you find and realise something else that leaves you full of admiration in how the director has meticulously brought everything together. In breaking down the scenes, listening to the words being spoken, watching the movements and expressions of the actors, listening to the songs and immersing yourself in them really does give this film so many levels and such depth.
It is also great to read the thoughts of the director, the actors and of Sufjan Steven in the songs he wrote; as this really adds to the emotion and depth of this film.
I really cannot speak highly enough of this film and the following two-part review captures the films depth perfectly in how it makes you feel when disecting and digesting each scene and what was meant:-
Part 1 - https://seventh-row.com/2017/12/12/best-scenes-1-call-me-by-your-name-2/
Part 2 - https://seventh-row.com/2017/12/15/best-scenes-2-call-me-by-your-name/
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.
A Homage to Merchant Ivory
- Call Me by Your Name review by KW
I thought the days of the Merchant Ivory classic films were long gone and along comes this gem, with a wonderful script that kept the film moving along allowing one to absorb the changing emotions of the lead characters as their relationship develops. Visually excellent absorbing one into the landscape of Italy and with a Oscar nominated performance from Timothy Chalamet that for me was sublime, and a joy to watch.
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.