Twice I’ve seen the film on the big screen since its commercial release in the country last January 31st and twice I’ve been affected by it in such a way that no other films I’ve seen in a while had made such strong impact. If you’ve not read the book of the same name where the film was so brilliantly adapted by James Ivory, you won’t miss out that much. There are a few deviations from it but overall, it was an almost faithful retelling of Oliver and Elio’s story – a summer love affair between a seventeen-year-old Italian boy, Elio Perlman and an American university professor Oliver who has been selected to live in Elio’s parents’ home as a guest “resident” while finishing a manuscript for publication.
The number one thing that I’ve noticed while watching the film is how sedate it was. There’s the beautiful landscapes of a northern Italian country side that transports you to its 1983 time period. The relaxed vibe of the film juxtaposed the heaviness of its plot – mainly, Elio’s struggle to understand and accept what he feels towards Oliver.
Timothée Chalamet truly and utterly made me feel what Elio felt. He totally owned Elio’s character – every roll and flick of his eyes, every nuances in his voice especially when he asked Oliver not to go. I am in so much awe of his brilliance – so young and yet with so much potential.
Chalamet and Armie Hammer had an incredible chemistry here that makes you root for them. The compatibility was there and all throughout the film, you can feel their characters’ connections.
I’d also like to praise Michael Stuhlbarg’s portrayal of Elio’s father. Mr. Stuhlbarg is beautiful and his acting is simply sublime. I’m very surprised that Hammer got more acting nominations than him from this film. He was simply delightful to watch.
This adaptation actually made me appreciate the book a little more. I wasn’t that fond of it mainly because of Oliver but this version right here made me like him. Hammer made me appreciate his character.
Overall, I believe that this film does not need many dialogues or any major special effects. It’s wonderful as it is. Luca Guadagnino so brilliantly captured the beauty of human emotions in Elio, Oliver and the rest of its characters. It’s sedate but it’s so full of life. It makes you appreciate yourself and your support system the way everyone has been supportive of Elio in the film. I think it’s lovely that it does not merely focused on what’s on the headline like the whole love affair between these two guys but it delves deeper with the love that we could find around us, most especially our family. If given a chance, I’d watch this one the third time and I cannot wait to get its DVD! The film truly deserves all of the accolades it has received.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chalamet), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ivory), and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love”) at the 90th Academy Awards.