[Screen It]


(2017) (Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer) (R)

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Drama: A 17-year-old finds himself falling for a twenty-something grad student who's come to live with his family in northern Italy over the summer of 1983.
It's the summer of 1983 and Elio Perlman (TIMOTHEE CHALAMET) is a 17-year-old living with his archaeologist dad (MICHAEL STUHLBARG) and mom, Annella (AMIRA CASAR), in northern Italy. The young man spends his warm summer days lounging by the pool or playing the piano while his summer nights are filled with thoughts of taking his relationship with his girlfriend, Marzia (ESTHER GARREL), to the next level.

Joining the family for part of the summer is twenty-something grad student, Oliver (ARMIE HAMMER), who's going to help Mr. Perlman with his work and will be staying in Oliver's room with the teen relegated to another bedroom connected via a shared bathroom.

Despite both initially appearing straight, Elio and Oliver allow their platonic friendship to develop into flirting and then something more between them. All of which means their budding romance has a limited time to blossom and flourish with Oliver scheduled to leave before the end of summer.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
In a conventional frame of mind, it would make sense that a movie with tons of characters and a complex plot would never end up boring simply due to the myriad of moving parts. Conversely, a simple storyline with a handful of roles could seem to run the risk of running out of enough material to sustain viewer interest.

Yet, I've watched movies with plot summaries that took paragraph after paragraph to describe and sometimes fifteen to twenty characters to note that ended up boring me to tears, while those with a sparse amount of description and only a handful of performers have often had me completely engaged by the characters and what transpires.

"Call Me By Your Name is one of those latter pics. On its surface, it's a fairly simple coming of age tale meets love story featuring a 17-year-old protagonist, his parents, the girl he fools around with, and the slightly older man who steals his heart in the warm months of early '80s northern Italy.

In fact, had this been a musical, one easily could imagine "Grease's" "Summer Nights" showing up with "Summer lovin' had me a blast / Summer lovin' happened so fast / I met a girl crazy for me / Met a boy cute as can be / Summer days driftin' away / To ah, oh, those summer nights."

Uh well-a well-a well-a huh indeed. As the story begins, 17-year-old Elio (Timothee Chalamet, now an Oscar nominee for his work here) is a typical kid spending the summer with his archeologist father (Michael Stuhlbarg) and mother (Amira Casar) in Italy with hopes of taking his relationship with Marzia (Esther Garrel) to another level.

But then along comes the strikingly handsome grad student, twenty-something Oliver (Armie Hammer), who's going to help Mr. Perlman with his work for a limited time over the summer. Elio is initially a bit perturbed that this stranger gets his bedroom for that time, but the two start hanging out.

And despite the teen finally having sex with his girlfriend, he begins to flirt with Oliver and vice-versa, despite the latter also initially appearing straight. And the romance then blossoms as the teen's parents maintain their hands-off but supportive view of letting their son spread his wings however he sees fit.

And that's really about all there is to the story stemming from James Ivory's now Oscar-nominated screenplay adaptation of Andre Aciman's 2007 novel of the same name. Despite that apparent simplicity, Ivory's dialogue runs deep with subtext (and a terrific speech by Stuhlbarg's character near the end), director Luca Guadagnino and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom make the entire production appear as pretty as a vacation postcard, and the actors deliver terrific performances that keep you engaged with their characters.

Nominated for Best Picture of the year, "Call Me By Your Name" proves that sometimes "simple" is all you really need in a movie-going experience. It's a near picture-perfect coming of age tale and a look at a young summer romance that all involved know won't transcend that seasonal moment but nonetheless flourishes in the time it has and leaves a lasting impression. The film rates as a 7 out of 10.

Reviewed December 4, 2017/ Posted January 26, 2018

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