Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 26

Call Me by Your Name:
The slow burn of first love

I have not used the word “languor*” in some time, but it is a perfect one-word descriptor of this masterpiece of film making, Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name.” It is almost a shock to experience a film that takes so much time to lay out a story of utter submission to homosexual desire. In fact, the first two thirds of the film is an extended foreplay to the recognition of mutual passion. There is a spare amount of dialogue and even less music (the score is almost entirely solo piano music; I recognized Maurice Ravel and J. S. Bach). Instead, the sounds we hear are splashes of water, slamming of doors and creaking floorboards, and there is dialogue in French, Italian, German and English. The film is set in northern Italy, near Lake Garda. There are extended periods of quiet that underlie an intoxicating languor. And most astonishingly, the film is superior to the novel of the same name. The book is slow to a fault, and the main character, 17-year-old Elio, so full of self doubt and anguish that I almost put the book down for good.

*languor – inactivity, especially when pleasurable 

(Oxford Dictionary).

But James Ivory worked his magic with the screenplay, making Elio a less pathetic character.  And if Timothée Chalumet (Elio) doesn’t win an Academy Award for Best Actor, there is no God (an aside – Chalumet turns 22 tomorrow; born December 27, 1995). Achingly handsome Armie Hammer, who portrays 24-year-old Oliver, is the summer academic assistant to Elio’s father and the object of Elio’s simmering passion. That two straight actors can have the self assurance to deliver such convincing and wrenching portrayals of homosexual desire is a testament to their talent. As many critics have commented, it’s impossible to imagine any other actors in these roles, so immersed are they in their characters.

Trivia: Openly gay director Guadagnino lives and works with his partner in a complex of apartments in a villa in Crema, Italy, where most scenes in this movie were filmed. Luca has let it be known that he is planning a sequel to CMBYN. 

More trivia: Armie Hammer is the great grandson of fabulously wealthy Armand Hammer, the former head of Occidental Petroleum, philanthropist, art collector and financial backer of the Republican Party. Armie doesn't live on inheritance. Along with his wife and two children he runs a chain of Texas bakeries called Bird. Armie's great-grandfather was born in 1898 to Jewish parents of Russian descent. Armand Hammer's first name was derived from the "arm and hammer" graphic symbol of the Socialist Labor Party of America, a founding element of the Communist Party USA.

Like “Brokeback Mountain”, this is a must-see film for every homosexual man. By far it has been my best Christmas gift a wonder of a movie.

Terry (blogger)


  1. Having started with the film, I find I prefer the book.But do both.

  2. Like Terry, the movie is the divine thing for me. I'm reading the book now, but the magic of that miraculous film stays with me. And like Terry again, it has been my best gift. I've seen it twice. :)