Call Me By Your Name (2018)

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  • Directed by Luca Guadagnino
  • Starring Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer
  • Written by James Ivory
  • Drama, Romance
  • Rated R
  • 2hr 12mins
  • 19 January 2018

Synopsis

Based on a book by the same name, Call Me By Your Name tells the story of a mid-80s summer in which a college student guest, Oliver, comes to stay with a family in the Italian countryside where Elio, a seventeen year old boy, discovers some things about himself all because of Oliver.

How’s the Story?

Not to be ‘that person’, but it’s pretty dull. I got crazy excited by the prospect of a gay romance making waves, but I then read the book before the movie came out (a big mistake; it was the worst book I’ve ever read) so I knew going in that the best hope I could get is that it doesn’t include the weird stuff in the book. Thankfully, the weirdest things were left out of the movie, and the overall story of a teen boy coming to terms with his sexuality takes the front seat. However, the way the story is told is beyond boring and I think that comes down to flaws in the following places.

How’s the Acting?

I do not, for the life of me, understand the praise for the acting in this movie. No, it isn’t terrible, but when the actors seem ‘acty’, that’s a sign of bad acting. There is no Oscar-worthy performance in this. I’m just saying. The best performance in this movie is the father, played by Michael Stuhlbarg. He’s by far the shining light in the mediocre array of performances in this movie, in my opinion.

How’s the Writing/Directing?

There are moments in this movie where it sounds so pretentiously unnatural that I cringed. There are lines of dialogue that is just so unavoidably awkward and don’t fit the character and the story at all. There are, as I said, entire scenes that are highly ‘acty’, which is something a good director should be able to fix, but for some reason the director didn’t do that, and I don’t understand.

That said, once again, Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue is money. It seems like all the writing attention went into that one monologue and I loved it. It’s really what saved this movie, for the most part.

How’s the Cinematography?

Yet again, I don’t understand what went wrong. The editing is abruptly choppy at times, and while that isn’t cinematography, the awkward cuts in scenes from one strange framing to another, where there are very unnatural shot compositions on the screen, is just absurd. Was there some theme or metaphor I just am missing?

Full disclosure: I got a screener of this, so perhaps it was pre-final-editing-sweep? It just blows my mind how oddly bad the choices in composition were in some spots in this movie.

Is It Worth Watching?

I guess? If your tastes align with me often, then no. Don’t waste these hours of your life. But for some reason, everybody else I’ve spoken to sees something I don’t see, and maybe it’s best you see it for yourself to decide.

Above all of these issues, which I admit, are issues of taste, there is one major, glaring issue with this movie that I address in a recording that has yet to be published, and that is the way that this film being touted as positive queer representation is confusingly tone deaf to me as a queer person who has grown up in a homophobic world. While tons of queer people seem to not agree, I find it absolutely maddening that in 2017, we would praise a movie that reinforces a hurtful and disgusting homophobic stereotype.

All my life people have said gay men shouldn’t have children or be teachers because they’re perverts who are going to prey on your little boys. Call Me By Your Name is a story about an adult man whose age isn’t stated but who looks about thirty having a sexual relationship with a seventeen year old boy. No, he didn’t prey on the kid, the kid went after him, but that doesn’t make it okay. In real life, when a man in his mid-twenties dates a seventeen year old girl, we call him a pervert who preys on little girls, and rightly so. Why is it that we have a movie that shows us the same thing – only in some ways worse, since that stereotype has hurt so many people in so many ways – and we are all over how it is a tragic romance?

Most of us agree that the problem with transgender women being played by male actors is that it reinforces the stereotype to transphobic people that a trans woman is just a man in a dress. This is a movie that reinforces the stereotype that a gay man is going to come for your teenage boys in that very same way. It is so far from a POSITIVE representation of queerness when I’ve seen teachers get fired because they’re gay and parents don’t want them around their sons, or when fathers lose custody of their children when they divorce their wife and meet another man, all because of this stereotype that we’re celebrating as a tragic romance in this movie.

Not to say there isn’t anything positive. The parents being so loving and accepting is amazing! I loved them! The set design and costuming were incredible! So much of this movie had a great amount of potential, but there were flaws I can’t overlook, and most of all, there was the issue of that stereotype being reinforced and celebrated. I can’t help but feel like even if I loved this movie, that issue would leave a bitter taste I just couldn’t get around.

My Rating: 3/10

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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