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.


Pitbullshark said…
I give you my permission, Vera, (post posting!) and stress that I give all the credit to you in the first place. If it hadn't been for you, I probably would never have known about the book, and I might not have even seen the movie. I will eternally be thankful to you for this. Seeing the movie the first time ended up making me read the book again and upon doing so, it make me feel that I hadn't read it before, that I somehow must have missed so much of what is in there. So, after reading the book again, I had to see the movie again!

There was one bit of frustration, though, and that is that I am not a "member" of that theater where they were showing the movie (it's all the way over across town and not one I would normally go to to see a movie), and it turns out that they do not broadly advertise when they have Q&As. I chose to go to the 5:00 show which was most convenient to me, and while waiting there to be able to go into the theater, one of the ushers mentioned to me that the director, Luca Guadagnino and lead actor TIMMY CHALAMET were going to be having a Q&A at the 6:30 showing of the movie in the theater across the hall! He said that they advertised that Q&A to their members. But the seats are all reserved and while I had a perfect seat for the showing I was going to, all seats were already booked for the showing that would have the Q&A. You can imagine my frustration, I would have so much chosen to go to that showing if only I had known!

Timmy is not only such a great actor, but seeing interview videos with him and Armie Hammer on YouTube, Timmy is like a Jack Russell Terrier, filled with enthusiasm, excitement and energy and into everything and loving everything about the whole experience of the movie. I always ask a question or make a comment at Q&As, I just somehow want to express my appreciation and have a chance to talk with whoever it is, and have them talk with me, which I have been able to do with so many wonderful people (such as actually getting hugged by Charley Hunnam and Jamie Bell), so to be able to briefly interact with and at least just see in person Timmy Chalamet would have been so wonderful. And I don't think that is pathetic at all! I think it would be stupid to not be excited at being able to do that.

Anyway, I contemplated hanging around in the hallway after the 5:00 showing was over with the hopes maybe the two guys would exit that way (it would have entailed more than an hour and a half of waiting), but figured they probably would have been quickly ushered out somewhere in the back, so I gave it up. I figured Timmy was going to be so great that there would be other movies and other screenings and I might see him that way with whatever he does next time. My seeing Charley Hunnam wasn't from "Queer As Folk" and Jamie Bell wasn't from "Billy Elliot"; I saw them both after the screening and Q&A of "Nicholas Nickleby", that they were in, so there are multiple chances to get to see people you admire if you live here in Los Angeles. (CONTINUED IN NEXT COMMENT)
Pitbullshark said…
After seeing CMBYN the second time, I pre-ordered the soundtrack CD, which took quite some time to finally get shipped out, and I was surprised to see that it contained 17 songs. People are buying that CD mainly for the three Sufjan Stevens songs that completely encapsulate the feeling of the movie (you will cry every time you listen to any one of those songs), but I think the Ravel "Barque sur l'ocean" contains that same power, and to a lesser extent, "John Adams's "Halleluja Junction"...but the other 11 songs, I have NO idea where they were in the movie. Also, the director said that every time in the film there was progress in the love between Elio and Oliver he underscored the scene with the Ravel piece, and there was something else he used when the two were having difficulties, so I realized I wanted to see the movie for a third time so that I could figure out where and how each song track was used. I have a reserved seat ticket for my third seeing of the movie this Saturday.

And yeah, I joined an on-line book discussion group of that book--the group is called Goodreads--and have had an extensive correspondence with fans of that book and movie.

So yes, I guess I am obsessed. But your readers, Vera, MUST both read that book and see that movie, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t love it. If any of them do one of those two things, they then WILL do the other one. And it doesn't even matter the order in which you do it. Either way, Call Me By Your Name will grab you and not let go.
Anonymous said…
We loved the movie. It moved slowly but was never boring. Chalamet was amazing. Beautiful film.
Vera said…
I have seen a few, very few, reviews by people who thought it was boring, but honestly, I don’t know what they were talking about. Every moment was filled with either beauty or meaning, and often both.

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