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Call Me By Your Name.

callmebyyourname2

Luca Guadagnino’s film of first love is beautiful, capped by a scene I may, happily, never forget.

James Ivory has brought his elegant touch to this adaptation of Andrew Aciman’s acclaimed novel. Set in the summer of1983, in the gorgeous north of Italy, the story sets its tender gaze on 17 year old Elio, an Italian American whose family summers in a breathtaking 17th Century villa. Cranky and, well, 17, Elio spends his time transcribing classical music, flirting a bit with the locals and being annoyed at his parents. And then one day a handsome, somewhat older man shows up, taking over Elio’s room so he can assist the boy’s father, Greco-Roman specialist. Oliver, played by a sun kissed Armie Hammer at his most stunning and charming, is an irresistible force. And Elio cannot resist.

Timothee Chalamet, in his first real starring role, knocks it out of the vineyard here. The role itself calls for a lot and this actor handles every scene with authority and empathy. It’s a special treat for us to see his very different work also this year in Lady Bird, giving us a glimpse as to the range this rising star has to offer.

Yes, this is a coming of age movie and yes, it is a loving and perceptive look at a man’s understanding of his own sexuality. But it is also, maybe even more so, a look at love, romantic love and familial love. As warm and wistful as the film is, on those merits it could go down as just another lovely reckoning movie. But there is a scene close to the end of the picture that wakes us from our agreeable immersion, makes us sit up and really take note. It’s a speech Michael Stuhlbarg delivers almost without moving, drawing us in to a scene they’ll be playing in acting classes forever. At least they should be.

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