Sundance 2017: Sweaty, Sensual Masterpiece 'Call Me By Your Name'

January 24, 2017

Call Me By Your Name

Have you ever seen a film that is so incredible, so extraordinary in every way, that when it's over you feel totally drunk on happiness, high on cinema, floating away with huge smile? That's how I felt walking out of the world premiere of Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name at the Sundance Film Festival. This film is a masterpiece. Everything about it is so wonderful and so moving and so unforgettable. Call Me By Your Name is the latest film by Luca Guadagnino, adapted from André Aciman's book of the same name, about the sexual awakening / coming-of-age of a young boy from Italy. It's a sweaty, sultry, seductive story infused with sensuality and intense intimacy. An utterly sublime cinematic experience that left me floored.

Where do I even start with this, how do I even properly explain why it's so amazing? Call Me By Your Name stars Timothée Chalamet as Elio, a teenager living with his Jewish-American-French-Italian family in the Italian countryside. They invite a summer guest to their home, Oliver played by Armie Hammer, and over the course of the summer Elio and Oliver start to get closer and closer. At first, they seem to ignore each other, but eventually the sexual tension gets so intense there is practically steam coming out of the screen. It's a beautiful love story but much more than that, as the relationship between Elio and his parents (played by Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) is a key part of the story as well. Guadagnino directs all of them in performances that seem so utterly real, making it even more emotional to watch them fall for each other.

Call Me By Your Name is also one of those films that truly takes viewers to another time and place, set in the early 1980s in Italy. I completely forgot I was in snowy Park City for two hours, feeling whisked away to the sun-drenched countryside. It's hard to even explain how Luca Guadagnino achieves this, because he makes everything seem so effortless, though he clearly has an extraordinary amount of skill as a filmmaker. The cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom is lush with unique angles, a large part of what makes it so easy to be feel lost in this world. The music selection, a mix of diegetic songs and a lovely score, brings even more depth to the film. I desperately want to see it again as soon as I can, and dive right back into this world, forgetting about whatever is going on outside of the cinema and finding more and more to appreciate.

The performances from both Timothée Chalamet & Armie Hammer are wonderful, holding back when they need to, and letting loose at the right moments. However, it's Chalamet that delivers a truly unforgettable performance, his glances speaking volumes about his emotions, without ever having to say a word about them. The final shot in the film is remarkable, one of the best in any film we'll see this year. And there's so many other moments leading up to that ending that will stick with me for days, months, maybe even years. There's a conversation that Michael Stuhlbarg's character has with Elio near the end that I need a transcript of to refer to often, because it's absolute perfection. We need more movies like this, that are so heartening.

This is the kind of unforgettable film that I hope to discover at film festivals, a breathtaking work of cinema that leaves us all floating on cloud nine because it's so totally magnificent. I spent hours talking about it with a friend after, and will continue to talk about it with other friends over and over again. This film left me in such a great mood, I was dancing around the streets with a smile that wouldn't go away. Guadagnino has made his first masterpiece, and I wouldn't be surprised if he makes a few more down the line. This guy definitely knows how to direct, he knows how to tell a story, he knows how to take us to another place, he knows how to bring out the best in actors, and he knows how to make films that leave a lasting impression.

Alex's Sundance 2017 Rating: 10 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter - @firstshowing

Find more posts: Review, Sundance 17



Alex, Why do you think this film didn't have frontal nudity unlike A Bigger Splash?

Mr. Nice Guy on Jan 24, 2017


Because they probably have tiny junks. What else.

tarek on Jan 24, 2017


They could have CGI'd or used a prosthetic...

Mr. Nice Guy on Jan 24, 2017


CGI-zing their private parts will cost them half the budget.

tarek on Jan 24, 2017


Damn! You make too much sense!

Mr. Nice Guy on Jan 24, 2017



tarek on Jan 24, 2017


Once again an interesting discussion on a film turns juvenile by who other than tarek.

Charles Knowlton on Jan 25, 2017


;D The 12 year old boy who shares with me my body has to express himself from times to times.

tarek on Jan 25, 2017


My thought is that it would've taken too much attention away from the film, from the story, itself. Look at Blue is the Warmest Color, all the talk was about nudity and the sex scenes in that film, and perhaps Luca learned from that, and decided to really focus on the love story and their connection and that angle. Just my feelings, I don't really know, would have to ask him in an interview...

Alex Billington on Jan 25, 2017


Yes please! I hope you actually ask him! It would be cool haha

Mr. Nice Guy on Jan 26, 2017


Sorry Alex, you lost me at "sweaty, sultry, seductive . . ." when discussing a movie about a teenage boy and a grown man. Of course, it might just be me since guys like Mr. Nice Guy (below) appear to be clamoring for frontal nudity to go along with this dreck. I'll take a pass on this one.

Doug on Jan 24, 2017


This is a rather homophobic comment... It is a film about a relationship between two men. It's sweaty because it takes place in the summer in Italy and everyone is sweating all the time. It's also very sensual and seductive, because that's what the film is about - a love story. It's also a masterpiece, so if you love movies, you should give it a chance anyway.

Alex Billington on Jan 24, 2017


Alex, I don't see his comment as homophobic. To call names like that is bullying. Doug was quite polite in stating his opinion. Live and let live. Not everyone is going to agree with you and if you must call names to those that is unfortunate.

VoiceOfReason on Jan 24, 2017


Like I have tried to explain to you blockheads it isn't for straights to decide or define what is homophobic, that is for gay people to decide. And then to fucking argue about it with that same gay person when who's just called you out for your homophobia is just the actions of a total arsehole- a homophobic arsehole. Is that clear enough for you?

Butter Cumpets on Jan 28, 2017


You are absolutely wrong. Hypothetically, just because you have been the victim in a situation doesn't mean that you get to decide what is reality and what is not for the entire world. I am sorry if you've been persecuted or treated badly. Coming unhinged at every one who is different than you only perpetuates the problem. If it makes you feel better to attack others and bully them around by name calling because you were hurt you should rethink that approach.

VoiceOfReason on Jan 28, 2017


If you think that arsehole above referring to me as "buttercup" is not intending to be homophobic then you and I seriously have nothing to say to each other. And further for that animal to say he doesn't approve of the lifestyle of his gay acquaintances is objectively homophobic! What else can it be, but homophobic? Well? And yes I do get to decide if someone is being homophobic. End of.

Butter Cumpets on Jan 29, 2017


Called you "buttercup" because I tried to avoid bringing attention to the fact you can't even spell your handle correctly. Cumpet? That's English slang for a smelly person (or worse). However, after listening to all your bullsh*t, I'm now guessing that actually might be the word that best describes you. Clear?

Doug on Jan 29, 2017


Did it really take you 48 hours to come up with that snappy, spontaneous witty response? I guess homophobes are just slow witted.

Butter Cumpets on Jan 29, 2017


My definition of slow witted is someone who fails to recognize they spelled something as simple as their handle incorrectly. And yes, I get to decide that you are being slow witted!! Just accept it. Are we clear now, dumbass ?

Doug on Jan 29, 2017


So, you now accept you're a homophobe? Well that's progress, I suppose.

Butter Crumpets on Jan 29, 2017


Do you think I give a shit about social norms in other countries? This is a gay love story that occurs between a 17 year old BOY and a +/- 30 year old man. I will never be open minded about that scenario regardless of which country it takes place in. If a story like that blows wind up your "cultured" skirt, fine. I don't care. All I ever said is that I'll pass on the movie and the gay community lost their fucking minds.

Doug on Feb 5, 2017


Love is love is love is love. This film is a masterpiece. Sorry that upsets your preferences so much. If you're a true film fan, you'll see this because it's a masterpiece.

Alex Billington on Feb 6, 2017


I think it's a leap to brand someone homophobic just because they express an aversion to watching a film about gay men falling in love. Especially when those 3 keywords all together are right in the title. It wasn't readily apparent that sweaty didn't refer to the men but the weather. It doesn't jump out at me as a film I would want to see either from the description. But if it is indeed a masterpiece as you say then maybe I'd give it a shot.

David Diaz on Jan 24, 2017


I was just going off of what Alex said in his review. I haven't seen it yet so I can't agree or disagree.

David Diaz on Jan 25, 2017


Yeah, and any 10/10 has to be in contention for "masterpiece" classification.

DAVIDPD on Jan 25, 2017


OK, but I do stand by what I said. "Contention" is the keyword here. Not many films get a 10/10 from me. And you have to admit this is a pretty personal subject. Impartial-ness, is not really going to be a huge player.

DAVIDPD on Jan 26, 2017


I'm sorry, but being disinterested in something because it's about a gay love story is literally the definition of homophobia. Being quick to fight back is perpetuating that homophobia and normalizing these "opinions" in a way which they shouldn't be normalized. Most importantly, the film IS a masterpiece and everyone who enjoys cinema should go in with an open mind to see the film. It's worth it just for the filmmaking alone.

Alex Billington on Jan 25, 2017


That is so not true. As someone who proudly supports gay rights, and have many gay people in my life, hearing someone say you're homophobic for not being interested in a movie is ridiculous. I'm not trying to tout that, as that would also be ridiculous. But throwing out terms like homophobic is unbelievably unfair and extremely assumptive. I truly do not understand why you're so quick to fight everyone on this site when they disagree with you. It's a film website, not everyone agrees about film, as it is so subjective. I have literally no desire to go see Resident Evil, does that make me sexist because it has a strong female lead?

Charles Oosterhouse on Jan 25, 2017


What? I'm fighting for this movie because I LOVE it and no one should have ANY reason to not be interested in it. This discussion is so fucking nuts. I wrote passionately about a movie because I love it, genuinely loved it. And someone said that because of my choice of words they didn't want to see it. You should be complaining about them, not me.

Alex Billington on Jan 25, 2017


Look Alex. I've held off responding because I never imagined that my comments would set you off like it did. But I've got to set the record straight since you seem intent on attacking me for my opinion. You keep saying that "being disinterested in seeing a gay movie or a gay love story is LITERALLY the definition of a homophobe". That's total BS and you know it. For your info, the LITERAL definition is a "person who fears or hates homosexuals". I do not fear or hate homosexuals. I have several gay acquaintances that I consider friends and, while I don't approve of their lifestyle, what they consensually do in their personal life is none of my business. But I do not fear or hate them. What I have a difference in opinion to is a movie (and movie reviewer) that fawns over a movie about a gay relationship between a TEENAGER (17 yo) and a grown man. I'd have a problem if it was a man and a 17 year old girI. It's inappropriate subject matter. Bullying me into having an open mind and calling me names if I stick to my faith should be beneath you. I personally won't go see it but don't care if anyone else does. If you only want a COMMENTS section on your website that nods their heads in approval to everything you review, at least let us know.

Doug on Jan 26, 2017


Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. Doesn't matter who it's with, it just matters that it's a love story. And this film is a MASTERPIECE. I don't really care that you are afraid of seeing it for your own personal reasons, it'll likely be on my Top 10 of 2017 because it's a beautiful film and deserves to be recognized. Wish you would be open-minded enough to give it a look as well.

Alex Billington on Jan 26, 2017


"I have several gay acquaintances...(but) I don't approve of their lifestyle" WTF!!! That's very homophobic. You should get over your delusion that you're not homophobic! YOU ARE. And the place you're coming from is a place where morality is taken from the supernatural.

Butter Cumpets on Jan 27, 2017


Lighten up, Buttercup, You and Alex really need to avoid creating your own, convenient definition of homophobia. Please crack open a dictionary to learn what it really means. In spite of your unsubstantiated name calling, I am not a homophobe. But I understand that it makes you feel better to lash back. The fact is I do dot have "an open mind" regarding NAMBLA and other boy/man love scenarios (ideas that this movie apparently treads in). In the real world, it DOES matter who you are in love with. Grown men and underage girls or boys = not okay. Grown women and underage girls or boys = not okay. I don't FEAR it and I don't HATE it. I DISAPPROVE of it. Can you not comprehend the difference?? Finally, I have a right to my own opinion and respectfully offer that opinion it in a movie website comments section.

Doug on Jan 27, 2017


hey "buttercup"?? No doubt another homophobic comment. HO fucking Ho. You're a fucking arsehole It's not up to you to decide if something is homophobic or not. If a gay person tells you you're being homophobic then just accept it you fucking arsewipe. You don't get to decide what is racist or sexist or homophobic. Clear?

Butter Cumpets on Jan 27, 2017


Gonna agree with others that think this isn't a homophobic comment. Also, using the word "sweaty" along with those other words was obviously intentional and I completely doubt that the word "sweaty" was used in such context to refer to response to the weather. I doubt there are any reviews with a title that refers to the weather. Also, just because someone doesn't want to watch a movie about a homosexual relationship between an adult man and a young teen doesn't mean they are homophobic. That is ridiculous.

Charles Oosterhouse on Jan 24, 2017


This is literally the definition of homophobia - a fear of gay men and/or watching movies about gay men, stories of gay people falling in love, etc. If he had a "difference of opinion" it wouldn't be framed in that context - this person is clearly afraid of/disinterested in seeing a film about a "sensual" relationship between two men. That shouldn't matter *especially* if a film is THIS good, and this film is amazing. It's totally ridiculous that you can't see this. And no, it is a reference to the weather. Have you ever visited Italy in the summer? Everyone sweats. And yes, there is perhaps a second connotation to that word, but it is also a reference to the weather in the film. Everyone is wearing shorts the entire film, and sometimes they go shirtless, because it was so damn hot during filming.

Alex Billington on Jan 25, 2017


He did not say he was scared of it. He just said he didn't want to watch it. I don't want to go watch a lot of movies , that doesn't mean I hate what the movie is about.

Charles Oosterhouse on Jan 25, 2017


Powerful 10. Quite an interesting role for Armie.

DAVIDPD on Jan 24, 2017


Until you have a chance to see the movie again, read the book. It's wonderful.

Frank_O_File on Jan 24, 2017


The movie may be fine but mamma mia, this review is horrendous and instantly kills any desire to check it out! "breathtaking work of cinema that leaves us all floating on cloud nine because it's so totally magnificent"? "This guy definitely knows how to direct, he knows how to tell a story, he knows how to take us to another place, he knows how to bring out the best in actors, and he knows how to make films that leave a lasting impression."? Did 4th grader write this??

Hermes on Feb 2, 2017


Elio is 17 and Oliver is 24. Would those who are so put off by this movie feel the same about a romance between a 24 year old man and a 17 year old woman? I don't recall any similarly fervent objections to the romance between 16 year old Jenny and the well into his 20s David (Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard) in An Education, for example? By the way An Education is set in London the 60s and Call Me By Your Name in Italy in the 80s. The age of consent in Italy is 14. While many would understandably take serious exception to that, Elio at 17 would also be able to consent in about half the states of the U.S. (about half American states have 18 as the age of consent, in the other roughly half its 16 or 17).

Joseph Lavine on Mar 7, 2017


Getting back to the review, while I haven't seen the movie, and I very much look forward to seeing it, the reviewer gives too little credit to the writer (Aciman) who created this story. After reading, it immediately became my favorite book. I have read it over and over because it is such a beautiful love story. It's Aciman's beautifully crafted story that makes the film what it is, enhanced by the director's skill in translating the words into a picture.

Thom on Mar 11, 2017

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