Call Me By Your Name (2017) dir. Luca Guadagnino
Set somewhere in 1983 Northern Italy, Call Me By Your Name, a striking film based on a novel of the same name, uses a melange of diverse elements to induce salient emotional intensity. It relates the story of 17-year-old Elio Perlman, who falls for Oliver, a graduate student under Elio's father's tutelage.
Luca Guadagnino's mastery of aesthetic elements emphasises the unspoken; in the weight of the film's delicately crafted vision, the dialogue takes on an auxiliary capacity. This story of first love and first heartbreak is rife with beautiful imagery and meaningful messages - from the eclectic yet elegant palette to the ancient sculptures (reflected in Elio's delicate frame) to the music with Sufjan Stevens' trademark celestial imagery and gossamer voice.
Call Me By Your Name delivers an intensely realistic recreation of life. This film cannot, under any circumstances, parade as action-filled. The actors and the camera move languorously, with even jump-cuts taking on a lazy, lifelike quality. In the modern world, Call Me By Your Name is singular in its inclination to stop and smell the roses with its sedate gaze and attention to the texture of life. Emblematic details, such as a Robert Mapplethorpe poster, are scattered through the Perlmans' house; this meticulous attention to detail allows Call Me By Your Name to be revisited over and over again.
Elio and Oliver's story is guided as firmly by unspoken love as by graphic displays of emotion. Critical scenes are filled not with overt dialogue but instead with long silences and longing stares. The power of silence is reinforced explicitly when Elio's mother reads him a German fairytale about a princess and her illegitimate lover who are plagued with the question: "better to speak or to die?". Even after Elio and Oliver consummate their relationship, they never actually say the three tired words: I love you.
Instead, Gudagnino uses visual cues to relate emotion. The first part of the film is filtered with a muted pastel palette, in keeping tone with the idea of summer - a time of illumination, coming-of-age, and love. The final scene, however, is shot in the heart of winter, and the change in the colour palette reflects this theme of sorrow and change with its deep and desaturated tones. For Elio, this moment of contemplative sorrow arrives after his final telephone call with Oliver. He stares into the fireplace and cries as his remaining hope for a future with Oliver falls apart. In this static, three-minute shot of Elio, we see his emotions flit across his face in real-time; this stylistic choice is rife with sentiment and intensity, and for many viewers, it is the scene that cemented their adoration for this slice-of-life film and the portrayal of young love and growing pains.
All things considered, Call Me By Your Name is a rich piece of work in which every meticulous device works to intensify the scope of the film. Guadagnino elevates storytelling into art, creating a textured universe within the framework of his film. He goes further than embodying the role of the filmmaker; his canvas is a moving picture, and every element is forceful - from the elegantly crafted soundtrack to the shifting colour palette to the wilful camera movement. Call Me By Your Name is perennial in its ability to exceed the momentary pleasure of the plot. It is a film that is not merely consumed visually; it continues to haunt with its implicit eloquence.
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