Embracing Shadows – Review

My full review of Embracing Shadows, a short which looks at mental health in a unique way. Read it here.


Call Me by Your Name – Review

5 Stars

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name, based on the book by André Aciman, is quite simply one of the most astonishing films I have ever seen. After four viewings and a lot of reflection, it seems to only get better. Its truthful and personal tale of young romance is both utterly joyous and devastatingly heart-breaking.

Call Me by Your Name tells the story of Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a moody teen, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a student visiting Elio’s father. Their growing friendship blossoms into a deep romance, before reaching its painful and inevitable conclusion.

Right from the start the camera observes the action through windows, doorways, mirrors, and from balconies, peering into the six-week summer that will change Elio forever. The two young men’s initial meetings are curt and often cut short with Oliver’s nonchalant “later”. Soon, however, they begin to grow closer, metaphorically demonstrated with trunks, music, bicycles, and most famously, fruit. Although Hammer is seemingly too old for his character, the chemistry between the two leads is so perfect that no one else could fill his role. As for Chalamet, the young and, so far, inexperienced actor gives the performance of a lifetime. He handles Elio’s conflicting emotions with great subtlety, and his final scene is one that is so perfectly acted and profoundly emotional it will stay with many viewers for years to come.

James Ivory’s adapted screenplay is fantastic. The dialogue is sprinkled with humour and completely believable. However, the real star of the film is the music written, and performed, by Sufjan Stevens. “Mystery of Love” and “Visions of Gideon” are original songs made for the film and are both haunting and beautiful. To accompany the soundtrack is a stunning score that evokes the atmosphere of summer romance.

Although heart-breaking, the ultimate message of the film is one of optimism; that despite the sadness Elio feels, what he must truly take away from the summer is the joy he experienced, and that to bury his feelings is to do a great injustice to himself. The best moment of the film, and one of the greatest film scenes of all time, is when Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) sits down with his son and pours his heart out. To heal his son’s emotional wounds, he offers advice while admitting to his own failures. In a speech near unchanged from the original book, Stuhlbarg hesitantly and thoughtfully comforts his son, and in one monologue manages to encapsulate everything that makes this film perfect.