The Sexiest Boredom, or, Call Me By Your Name



One minute before the broadcast, here’s my post on the last of this year’s best picture nominees!

Call Me By Your Name, the sexual coming-of-age film about a 17-year-old teenager and a 24-year-old archaeology resident living with his family in 1983 Italy, is a seduction of a film.

The sexuality on display here isn’t especially assertive or aggressive in comparison to the conventional cinematic sexuality. The sexuality and attraction feel as if they are derived almost from boredom, from meandering eyes blinking away sweat during endless hours of Italian summer spent in the company of statues both ancient and alive. The film itself replicates the curious, sinuous courtship of its subjects with its own courtship of the audience, through cinematography, sets, costumes, music and pacing.

Nothing in this film is urgent or intense, like it takes place in a snow globe under a tanning light. It doesn’t seek to grab or steal your attention so much as it slyly courts your curiosity with luscious sights and sounds. There’s no meet cute between the film and the audience just as there is none between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film just sort of lays around under a pastel sun and it’s hard not to notice because nothing else is going on. It takes a passive approach in engaging with its audience and it pays of spectacularly. You know, “hard to get” and all that. One minute your casually contemplating Armie Hammer’s outfit, the next, Michael Stuhlbarg is waxing poetic into your exposed soul.

The sexuality of Call Me By Your Name and the film itself are freer, more meandering than their conventional counterparts. Perhaps because of that those potential viewers who would normally shy away from such films might just find themselves seduced by Armie Hammer’s athletic shorts.

Director Luca Guadagino’s film is based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman, from a screenplay adapted by James Ivory.

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