The Vermont Cynic

“Call Me By Your Name” transports audience

Meredith Rathburn

Meredith Rathburn

Hunter McKenzie, Arts Columnist

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I am stumbling out of a movie theater, turning a line of dialogue from the film I’ve just seen around in my head, over and over:

“Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot.”

In the process of trying to understand what it means, I’m met by brutal winter wind.

I’m stunned, having half expected not to emerge into the dirty, cold Vermont evening, but instead the sunny countryside of northern Italy where “Call Me by Your Name” — the film this haunting line belongs to — takes place.

A film of fruit, music, bodies, biking and dancing, “Call Me by Your Name” is both a stirring coming-of-age film and an engrossing gay love story that showcases the power of courage and kindness.

“Call Me by Your Name” revolves around Elio Pearlman (Timothée Chalamet), a bright 17-year-old who spends the summer of 1983 reading and transcribing classical music in the countryside.

When Elio’s father, an art history professor, invites Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American graduate student, to their villa, a deep affinity gives over to mutual desire, and a romance consumes Elio and Oliver.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, a master of lusty filmmaking, this work moves at a slow-burning pace that meticulously develops the tension between Elio and Oliver. The result is a film so intimate and detailed it belongs to everyone who experiences it.

James Ivory’s screenplay, faithful to the novel of the same name by Andre Aciman, is remarkable in its lack of any oppressive antagonist that stands in the way of Elio and Oliver.

No love is punished, and for that alone it could be considered a rare accomplishment. The film — down to it’s closing moments with that “weakest spot” line — lands in a bittersweet bliss, instead of coded tragedy.

The acting is the highlight, especially that of the two leads. They were tasked with conveying the story’s gripping intimacy, and do so with a palpable desire present in every moment.

Hammer is charming as Oliver, chiseled and warm, yet somewhat detached as a New England intellectual. He plays the role with a hypnotizing air that invites both Elio and the audience to try and get past his mysterious, carefree persona.

It is Chalamet, as Elio, who is the pulse of the movie, turning in a startling performance that captures the conflicted eagerness and overanalyzing yearning that comes with adolescence.

Chalamet’s talent is clearest during a scene early in the film, when Elio watches Oliver dance at a discotheque.

Among the music and colored lights, Elio sits and watches the object of his desire from afar with curiosity, longing and a soft and withering gaze. He takes a drag from his cigarette hungrily, self-consciously.

Chalamet rawly displays this image of an intelligent boy who, for the first time, finds himself agitated and enamored by the presence of somebody else.

Shot by cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, the film flourishes through its displays of glances and looks across spaces and touches, making the internal drama visual and cinematic.

Wide shots of the Italian countryside and close-ups of the bodies that populate it are lush and overwhelmingly tactile: water clinging to skin, sun on eyelashes, fruit juice racing down hands.

By the time the lights came back on in the theater, I realized I’d been transported, ripped from my seat and consumed by the world just as Elio was.

At once detailed, sweeping, frank and sweet, “Call Me by Your Name” stays with you after it ends, like any good romance or summer might, playing over and over in your mind.

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“Call Me By Your Name” transports audience