Luca Guadagnino’s "Call Me By Your Name"

I loved Luca Guadagnino's "A Bigger Splash,"what with its mystery and sensuality sprinkled into an original Hitchcock-influenced whodunnit. However, none of us expected his next film to be this good. 

The romance between a seventeen year-old Italian boy named Elio (Timothée Chalamet), and an American summer guest Oliver (Armie Hammer) staying at his parents’ cliffside mansion in southern Italy.  Guadagnino’s "Call Me By Your Name" was the Sundance film most people believed would survive through next year’s Oscar season, and for good reason. Guadagnino has made one of the year’s best movies — sensual, sexy, and touching, it’s a film that is simply told, but packs a wallop by the end of its 130 minute running time. Despite having only two public screenings at TIFF, it was runner-up for the festival’s top award. 

The film is filled with intense emotions as Gudagnino lingers on the sheen of sweat that shimmers in a southern Italian summer filled with first love. Armie Hammer’s performance is a career-peak and merits every award destined to come his way this season. Ditto newcomer Chalamet. The chemistry between these two actors is electrifyingly real. This is an erotic and mesmerizing movie that exemplifies cinematic artistry in scope, theme, and tone.  A late-film monologue by Michael Stuhlbarg is a particular highlight.

The film's pacing is superb and lets the viewer genuinely meet these characters, who are bonded by both friendship and physical affection. For this director it's not about the destination, it's about the getting there. But what makes "Call Me By Your Name" such a phenomenal film is its gripping sense of feeling. Viewers truly feel like they have been transported to 1980's Italy.  The immersion of the setting and characters remind us of why we love movies in the first place: to expose the viewer to a unique setting and to transport them to them through its unique indescribable language. 

The film's score is also a standout. It feels authentically European, and, at times, beautifully emotional, especially when paired with the film's script in many scenes. For example, there are a few scenes with Hammer's character dancing which are such beautiful examples of the contagious joie de vivre of this film. The writing feels both authentic and intelligent at all times, and the film doesn't even manage to let its guard down in a single scene by failing to grip the viewer with its beautiful script.

Guadagnino is a master at eliciting senses, and the audience's sense of senses are used to full effect to simulate the true feelings of being in Italy. From luscious depictions of peaches and apricots grown in the countryside, to the streets in gorgeous Italian towns and the steamy espresso, every sight and sound in the film feels truly authentic and impactful on the viewer. I have not seen such an effective use of reflecting on audiences' senses to create a more immersive viewing experience in a film in years. I wanted to immediately go to Italy and ... feel. [A]