Call Me By Your Name
The time has come when I must finally speak about the movie Call Me By Your Name, although I half-wonder what the point will be since you surely already know what I am going to say. It is a masterpiece. I have been breathlessly following the progress of this film since the casting was announced, the novel already being one of the most moving reads of my life, and ever since the film played at the Sundance Film Festival a year ago, hardly a day has gone by when I haven't read a new hosanna to the film's merits. The film finally opened in my tiny backwater last Friday and I was able to see it as it was meant to be seen, and yesterday the film and Timothée Chalamet's performance in it received much-deserved Oscar nominations, so I feel obliged to say something. The problem is that I don't know what I can say that hasn't already been said by other, more eloquent people.
Well, there is this: My main worry about a film adaption of this particular novel was that the entire narrative was the protagonist's inner monologue. How could they possibly convey Elio's thoughts and feelings without relying on elaborate speeches and corny voiceovers? The thing I did not expect was the extraordinary talent of Timothée Chalamet and his ability to show us everything we need to know without saying a word. I suppose it is inevitable that the stodgy old fuddy-duds at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will award Gary Oldman's prosthetics and scenery chewing in a movie that is generally acknowledged to be none too good, but it is Timothée's performance that will be remembered.
Before I go, I'd like to share with you (without permission)the words of our frequent commenter Pitbullshark, who shared these words at my mostly abandoned mirror site, all of which I agree with wholeheartedly. (These comments were posted in November. I didn't even see them until last week.)
The movie finally has been released, but alas, it is a very limited release in the United States so far. I was so fortunate to see the movie last night in Los Angeles (ha ha, suddenly the lobby of Arclight Hollywood looked like Outfest!), but it was in only one theater in Los Angeles and Los Angeles was the only city in California to get that release as of now.
It was a very packed house at the Arclight and the reviews have been top-notch, frequently describing the film as the best movie of the year, so if the movie has not been released where you live, take heart, because it probably will be soon enough.
The film is extremely wonderful and I recommend it to anybody. You might want to check out the outstanding review by Christy Lemire on the Roger Ebert movie reviews website.Timothee Chalamet is sexy to the max, having his shirt off about 65% of the movie and I love that easy relaxed smooth skinny look of his, like he hasn't the slightest doubt about his body, but the character has more doubts about his "beingness" despite being so smart and so musically talented. Way beyond his beauty, that actor is phenomenal. The very last shot in the movie, that seems to go on for 30 years, is the best acting I have ever seen in my life. And it wasn't only that one shot that demonstrated his astounding skill. I have acted on stage and in film myself, but I don't think I would ever know HOW to do it the way he did.
Before having seen the movie, I complained about the casting choices of the father and mother (I was neutral about Armie Hammer--I more like him than dislike him, but basically I am neutral--but I think casting him as Oliver was a good choice). However, I was wrong to prejudge; I very much loved the way Michael Stuhlbarg chose to play the father (loaded with enthusiasm and understanding), and Amira Casar, who played the mother, was beautiful. The only complaint I have (and it is a very small complaint), these actors and the settings have now taken over how I had imagined them from reading the book, but I am willing to trade all that for the choice of Timothee Chalamet, blowing away my personal previous vision of Elio.I am sure I will go see the movie again, probably more than once, but still the book is much "bigger". I read the book during my trip to Maui last Christmas break. When I got back from Maui, I kept reading the last five pages of the book every day for a month. I just couldn't let the book go and that ending strummed all my life's nostalgia strings. But finally I put the book on a shelf in my home library and moved on to other things.
But now that I have seen the movie, it has all come back to me, so I wanted to read those last five pages again. But instead, I read that whole last chapter again. Peculiarly, it was as if I had not read most of that chapter before, although I know I did. I guess it was just too intense and deep for me at the time. How much of it I had missed! Somehow, now, reading it again, it punched me so hard in the gut that it took me half a day to read just that one chapter, (reading so slowly and reading certain paragraphs over and over again before moving on), and I cried (vocally crying) all the way thorough it. I can't even understand why it hit me so much, but it sure did and yet it was all so wonderful.
I happen to be in a phase of reevaluating my whole life, what I describe as "having my deathbed regrets 30 years early so that I can do something about them", and that book is, well, as you well know, totally appropriate for something like that. Also, it gives me strength to now tell my Jungian Analyst about the Olivers and Elios, male and female, in my own life; clearly a therapeutic pandora's box that I have long needed to open yet hadn't had the courage to, yet, not even to my therapist.
Call Me By Your Name is in theaters now. Please support it. You may not know it, but it is the movie you need right now. The novel is by Andre Aciman, and you need to read that too.