To open the Love Month, we are greeted by two films about relationships. Changing Partners which is a musical off the recent Cinema One Originals festival that I previously wrote about, and Call Me By Your Name, an Oscar contender for four major awards including Best Picture and Best Actor. This film has been the toast of critics ever since its premiere at Sundance last year, and has been an Academy Award frontrunner ever since. Setting the bar high for itself, let’s see if it holds up to its own hype.
[related: Now Showing: Did ‘Changing Partners’—Originally A Musical—Also See Success As A Film?]
Set in the beautiful countryside of Crema, Italy on one summer in the 80s, the milieu becomes a third integral character for this love story. The fashion, the music, and the picturesque backdrop opened up a whole new world for me that I just suddenly want to buy those skimpy shorts for men, wear those loose linen shirts and bike in the summer heat. Film is a medium that should transport you to its world, and that it did. +5
Elio, a 17 year old Jewish-Italian boy played by Timothee Chalamet is the perfect protagonist for this material. He totally embodies the character with all the innocence, mischief, and charm that come with an teen adolescent with raging hormones. Though, I have not seen all the other Oscar contenders’ performances, I am so rooting for this kid to win it. I know this year’s competition is tough, especially with Gary Oldman in the running (It has been overdue for this plum). But Chalamet's organic portrayal is a rarity that truly deserves the award if ever, plus he is set to break records as he is currently the youngest nominee in history for this category. +5
Then there’s Armie Hammer as Oliver who looks like the embodiment of a Ken doll that becomes the object of Elio’s affection. Though he is physically perfect for the role, and his performance is more than palpable with just the right balance of vulnerability and aplomb, I could actually still think of other actors who could have played it better than him like maybe Gabriel Macht or Chris Pine. +2
The love story that the film is trying to sell is quite authentic. Take away the gender, the sexual preferential tendencies —which is of course a big part of the film, too—it is really just a gorgeously told love story. +3
Though some may argue that the film borders on pedophilia, I personally believe that it was really more of a coming-of-age, sexual awakening kind of film, romanticized in just the right way it should. The beauty of the material is that, you can actually change the genders of the two leads and it could still have worked with a few adjustments to the repercussions of these age and gender differences. +3
It is only in this film that we are introduced to two deeply loving and consenting parents who are never judgmental and ever supportive. In that way, this film becomes somewhat a fairy tale. They are impeccably portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar. +4
The storytelling style is so simple and yet so real that the emotions conveyed by the two leads are almost tangible. It takes its time without becoming too tedious and paces its way just right to let the emotions sink in along with its breathtaking visuals. +3
It also makes use of a simple and naughty device that will change you way you look at peaches, forever! +2
This film is just not my kind of sappy but it felt like the whole cinema was sobbing by the end of the movie and that deserves to be noteworthy. +2
Why Call Me By Your Name, you may ask? The use of it is actually the cheesiest line I’ve heard in a long time which is not my favorite part of the film, at all. -2
Wow, 27 points! My highest total for the year so far. Well, I immensely enjoyed the film so it’s just about right. There is much more that can be said about the movie but I believe that its greatest significance is how unique and restrained the filmmaking style is for a story that is so fetchingly simple. I also feel, though, that the hype is a bit overrated for it but it is undeniable that it is one of the best films of 2017 and it deserves all its accolades. Side note: Despite being so in love with the whole The Greatest Showman soundtrack, I’d want "Mystery Of Love" by Sufjan Stevens to win Best Original Song 'cause its just more my type of music.
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Photographs courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics