Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sundance with Abe: Call Me By Your Name

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fourth time. I’ll be seeing as many movies as I can and offering reviews throughout the week.

Call Me By Your Name
Directed by Luca Guadagnino

There is something about being on vacation that can make anything seem possible. Being far from home and in a different setting can break down boundaries and inspire friendships and relationships between people who, in any other setting, would never be seen speaking to each other. A summer season only enhances that notion, since it is a freer and more relaxed time during which things are generally more pleasant and the allure of something unconventional or forbidden is even stronger.

Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) is a seventeen-year-old boy who spends his summers and vacations in Northern Italy with his parents. The family lives in America during the year, and switches frequently between English, French, and Italian in everyday conversation. The arrival of twenty-four-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), a doctoral student interning for Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) invigorates an otherwise dull, sun-filled summer. While the only child initially resents this new temporary member of the family, interactions between the two young men show that there is a much deeper bond between them.

Director Luca Guadagnino is known for making artistic, colorful films about desire, usually set in his native country of Italy. “I Am Love” was a gorgeous and stunning experiment less rooted in conventional plot, while his most recent film, “A Bigger Splash,” was full of meaningful and suggestive moments but structured itself around four characters and their behavior in close quarters. “Call Me By Your Name” travels even further towards being a conventional narrative, housing an underlying hopeful romance under a standard story of people eating, drinking, swimming, and biking without a care in the world.

Hammer, who has been acting consistently in films since “The Social Network,” just this past year turned thirty, and he does have an ageless quality about him which allows him to present as mature and sophisticated to the adults and joyfully youthful when he spends time with Elio. Hammer’s performance is tied in with Chalamet’s and the way that Elio perceives Oliver, first as a threat and then as much more. The chemistry between the two is subtly executed and immensely powerful when it begins to show. The backdrop of sparsely-populated, sunny Northern Italy gives the film a dreamlike feel, and shots of the characters riding casually on their bicycles bring the audience into the experience and are hard to forget. This film’s 130-minute runtime really soaks in its setting, ending on a poignant note that acknowledges the depth of Guadagnino’s latest film.

This film was picked up at Sundance by Sony Pictures Classics and should be released soon!


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