A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call Me by Your Name is a vividly captured tale of first love between two young men. Starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, it has strong sexual content. While nudity is brief and fleeting (a woman's breasts, a man's buttocks) and the sex scenes aren't graphically explicit, there are multiple scenes of lovemaking, both between a teen girl and boy and between a teen boy and a man in his 20s. Oral sex is implied, and there's a scene in which a man ejaculates into a fruit, and the fruit is handled after. Teens smoke frequently, and both teens and young adults drink, at least once to excess. Language is infrequent, but includes "f--k" and "p---y."
What's the story?
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, based on André Aciman's novel of the same name, is the chronicle of a brilliant teen's first love -- a same-sex romance that takes place during an ideal Italian summer. Young Elio (Timothée Chalamet), an American multi-instrumentalist, is with his parents, both academics, on vacation at their summer home. After his professor father's (Michael Stuhlbarg) latest grad student resident, Oliver (Armie Hammer), arrives, Elio soon finds himself struggling with strong, unexpected feelings.
Is it any good?
This romantic drama is more fully and convincingly realized than most cinematic love stories in recent memory. Call Me by Your Name captures that affliction that all of us should have the chance to suffer: crazed, unreasonable first passion. The story is a bit unusual -- for Hollywood, that is -- in that it happens to be about two men, but that's only a detail in this beautiful film in which every element feels as vivid as the lovers' drive for each other. Director Luca Guadagnino richly captures a sense of place, whether in the bright sunshine of an Italian summer or the dying light in one of the house's rooms in early evening. "Vivid" is the word; it all feels as specific as the sharpest recollections of first love: the taste of the fruit that season, the Psychedelic Furs music they dance to at the club, the flashes of weird, inexplicable behavior. That the characters' passion is presumably forbidden (Elio is an older teen, while Oliver is an impossibly perfect grad student in his early 20s) only makes it more potent for those under its spell.
As Elio, Chalamet exudes real star quality. The role is demanding -- Elio is a gifted multi-instrumentalist who's highly intelligent and articulate and possessed of a kind of unsure charm. That's a lot, and Chalamet delivers it all while losing himself in an unexpected emotional rollercoaster. Hammer, meanwhile, is ideally cast as an all-American golden boy who's all confidence and ease. His Oliver is good at everything, but when he finally tips his hand romantically, he has endearing moments of vulnerability. And everyone should be so lucky as to have parents as interesting and understanding as those played by Almira Casar and Stuhlbarg. The dialogue, while highly intelligent, stays emotionally understated until the relationship blossoms, containing itself in all-subtext scenes like a wonderfully choreographed confession staged around a statue in a public square. There does seem to be a moral to this story, expressed in a simple, lovely scene of comforting. In celebrating the irreplaceable glory of love in the face of the agony of loss, one character says, "To make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything ... what a waste."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Call Me by Your Name depicts gay characters. How does it compare to other/typical depictions in Hollywood films?
How is sex portrayed here? Is it loving and respectful? What does it mean for the characters involved? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
What do you think of Elio's treatment of Marzia? Is it understandable, or does it make you like him less?
If you've read the novel the movie was based on, how do the two compare? Which do you like better, and why?
- In theaters: November 24, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: March 13, 2018
- Cast: Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Timothée Chalamet
- Director: Luca Guadagnino
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 132 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, nudity and some language
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
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