Swanner: Call Me By Your Name takes place in Northern Italy in the summer of 1983. Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and his parents spend their summers on vacation where his father can close out his last semester and prepare for his next year. Every year his father hires a grad student to come in and assist him. This year he hires Oliver to spend the summer with them, and Elio finds himself smitten with the hunky stranger.
Judd: The titillating draw of the movie, for those who are unfamiliar, is that Elio is a 17 year old boy, and Oliver is a grad student (played by 31 year old Armie Hammer). The age difference is exacerbated by Hammer’s physical build, in comparison to Chamalet, and the fact that Armie Hammer can only play 31 year old Armie Hammer. At no time throughout the film did I see him as a student in his early 20s.
Swanner: Sure, that was a bit creepy but at least it was something happening. Up till the budding romance, all that happens is swimming, playing the piano and eating apricots… lots and lots of apricots. This doesn’t surprise me since the script comes from James Ivory. If you remember the Merchant/Ivory films of the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll remember they were long/boring, yet beautiful to see. This film is very much the same.
Judd: The movie clocks in at 132 minutes, and it isn’t until the 80 minute mark where Elio and Oliver finally share an explicitly sexual moment. The rest of the movie plays like documentary. Static shots of the Italian countryside. The boys swimming, riding their bike or visiting the piazza. The movie is a very beautiful and accurate portrayal of an Italian summer, with it’s hot, humid days filled with sunny nothingness, but twelve minutes of story tacked onto a two hour travelogue is enough to put anyone to sleep.
Swanner: I think most gay men are not going to find themselves or their experiences in these characters. The film feels like a coming of age novel that probably was much more complete in it’s character development and it’s ability to stir those sexual fires. The only thing I got from this film is that I’d love to spend the summer in Italy, humidity and all. Just don’t house me near the characters of the film because I’d go crazy listening to Elio play the piano every time he gets horny.
Swanner: 1 ½ stars
Judd: 1 star