One of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2017 was Call Me By Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino. It managed to pile up over 80 awards and little under 200 nominations, amongst other, 4 Oscar nominations, one of witch, for best adapted screenplay, it has won. In it, we are introduced to young Elio, 17 years of age, the son of an eminent university professor, who is spending his summer vacation with his family in northern Italy during the early 80’s. When the fathers 20 something research assistant is also joining the family, Elio becomes fascinated by the guest and things get a bit complicated. Warning, there will be spoilers ahead.
As with so many other movies lately, with this one too, I am out of tune with the critics and I am unable to understand why it is so beloved. Save for the soundtrack, nothing really works for me in this movie. As far as my understanding goes regarding effective storytelling, the protagonist needs to have an objective, a goal to achieve, that drives him or her and there always supposed to be an obstacle in the way that needs to be overcome. This dynamic between objective-obstacle is what provides potency to any story. We have nothing of the sort in this movie, nothing that would held up in a closer examination, anyway. Let us look at our protagonist Elio. Both his parents are intellectuals, liberals and well off. They spend their summer holyday in northern Italy, in a mansion that is fully staffed with gardeners and cooks and what have you, so nobody in the family has to do any actual work. Also, being northern Italy, the family is pretty much living in paradise. One would be safe to say that Elio is living like a prince and thorough the entire movie he pretty much acts like one too. He is popular among the local girls and he enjoys their company, taking things beyond casual friendship with ease. To this picture arrives the fathers research assistant, which, although causes some initial tension, quickly becomes the main focus of Elios attention and a bit later on, the main focus of his passion.
The characters like Elio are known in the movie industry as a Mary Sue, which basically means that the given character has everything handed to him/her from the start and he/she does not have to earn any of it. And Elio does have everything handed to him on a silver platter. There is no obstacle in his way, nothing significant really. Even when his parents find out about his affair with the research assistant after it has ended, they do not exhibit any of the reactions one might expect a parent to have in a similar situation. No anger, no confusion or panic, nothing negative whatsoever. Instead, they provide a great deal of emotional support to Elio and express a real sense of satisfaction that he got to experience real love, regardless of circumstance. Even the girl, to which Elio lost his virginity to, assures him that she has absolutely no hard feelings towards him for neglecting her once she was no longer interesting. The sheer number of things going in Elios favor is just something my brain cannot reconcile with reality.
Another great problem is that this insipid fairytale is 132 minutes long. Considering that most of the scenes are rather brief, like under 1 minute long, the movie moves with a ridiculously slow pace, which makes its runtime to feel twice as long as it is. And most these brief scenes are trivial in nature, showing nothing of consequence, just the characters interact with everyday life. I will not go into the actors performance because, except for a scene in end of the 3rdact, where Michael Stuhlbarg delivers a great monolog as Elios father, I cannot find anything worth mentioning.
In terms of being an LGBTQ centric movie, I honestly believe that this movie cannot hold a candle against other titles in this category, such as Moonlight, Carol or Blue Is The Warmest Color, to mention just a few, as they all have an actual story to tell, while Call Me By Your Name is nothing more but a glorified 3rd person vlog of a summer vacation.