Call Me By Your Name Review: Gorgeous Summer Sensuality in the Depths of Winter

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I still can’t place my finger on when exactly I first heard about “Call Me By Your Name.” There has been buzz surrounding it for nearly a year since its January premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. All I knew about it was that it was set in Northern Italy and was about two young men who fall in love. What really drew me to it was the lush cinematography of the early promotional clips. My mind was set—I had to watch it as soon as I was able.

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This summer, the “Call Me By Your Name” hype grew and I was bursting at the seams to watch it. Reviewers were describing it as “tantalizing” and “sensual” and “summery.” It promised to be a visual feast with a beguiling love story. It also promised to be raw and heart-wrenching. The wait was excruciating.

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Finally, the time I had basically been waiting for all year arrived. It was November, I was in London and “Call Me By Your Name” had just come out in the UK a couple of weeks before. I was ecstatic. I got tickets to see it at the Curzon Cinema in Soho, a member of a arthouse cinema chain. The environment was relaxed and perfect—cushy seats, chill ambience and a packed theater full of other eager moviegoers.

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It’s hard to put into words how much I adored “Call Me By Your Name.” It’s genteel, refined and intellectually stimulating.

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The cinematography really sold the summer languor of the film, focusing on luscious, verdant pastoral views and casting the characters in an incandescent light. Every scene during the day was aglow with golden natural light, and the mood was somnolent. The night scenes were humming with barely contained energy, softly lit with hallowed coloring. The setting—a small town in Northern Italy in the 1980s—was picture perfect.

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It is set at the home of the Perlmans. The son, Elio Perlman, is home for the summer when he meets Oliver, an American PhD student who is studying the Classics with Elio’s father and residing with the Perlmans for the summer. And so ensues the pas de deux, a clandestine dance between the two love interests as they skirt around their feelings for each other. Elio (Timothee Chalamet) possesses an almost bird-like fragility, prone to sudden spurts of energy and flightiness. Oliver (Armie Hammer) is larger than life, filling up every room enters with his presence.

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Elio is the definition of precocious. He transcribes classical music, performs renditions of classics on the piano and reads and reads and reads. He is graced with intellectual precision. To him, at first, the burly American is uncouth and brusque. They are stark opposites, yet their chemistry is electric. Chalamet’s acting as the lovelorn Elio is magnificent. The sharp interest in his gaze when watching Oliver is palpable.

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This is a film that forces you to feel every single emotion displayed on screen. It holds your feelings hostage. And so, as it seeped with romance, I could feel my own heart spilling over. I felt the dizziness and the grandeur of that summer love. The scenes between Elio and Oliver as they discovered the depths of their feelings for each other had the wispy air of a dream. If you’re a hopeless romantic, you’ll be squealing internally. The sexual chemistry burns fiery hot and their mutual desire is as succulent as the fruits that thematically pop up throughout the film.

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Yet, with the highs come the lows, and Oliver must return to America at the end of the summer. This was the emotional weight of the film, and it wrung my heart out. Chalamet portrays a young man losing his emotional center with a sincerity that is absolutely heartbreaking. Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg) gives a truly sagacious monologue to Elio towards the end of the film that touches the soul and which I believe truly encapsulates the weight of first love.

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There were points in the film when I just wanted to bottle up the feelings I had in response to the imagery and keep them close to me forever. The music only heightened those feelings; the soundtrack was blessed with three songs from Sufjan Stevens (my personal favorite being the lugubrious Visions of Gideon), an artist that is able to transmit delicate love in his craft. The final scene was the most poignant and deeply moving of the entire film. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that it will hit you in waves of emotion that you may have even forgotten how to feel.

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If you love visually, intellectually and emotionally stimulating films, you will find all that and more in “Call Me By Your Name.”

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Side Note: How they make the simple act of biking look so spellbinding?

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10/10 Stars

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Masochist (a poem by me)

originally posted on my personal blog wildcharismaandwanderlust.wordpress.com

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Masochist

I stumbled when I saw you the first time

You could say I fell for you

It was a combination of relentless summer heat

And the quiver in my throat

When I saw those raw blue knuckles

You looked up at me and smiled

With a veneer of the benign

But I saw those jagged teeth

And the corners of your mouth

That didn’t quite reach your eyes

It was a dance with death

My rosy cheeks set against your pallid jawline

That was so sharp it almost sliced my fingers

My nimble hands contrasted with your brass palms

A cacophonous orchestra

I was rum and you were vodka

Both intoxicating, but together, poison

One too sugary sweet and the other dry and wintery

You felt sour and tangy on my tongue

And left a bitter-sweet aftertaste

Maybe I’m masochistic

Because even though you tore me open

And ripped my lungs into threads

I loved breathing through a sea of blood

It was the only time I felt something

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Anna and the French Kiss

Stephanie Perkins

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

Synopsis

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

My Thoughts

This is literally the most DELICIOUS book I have ever read.

This book is for anyone who has ever had a crush.

This book paints the most realistic love story I have ever read.

I fell completely, head over heels in love with the love brewing between Anna and Etienne St. Clair. I am so glad that they started out as friends. How they got to know eachother on so many levels. I learned that that is the best basis for love ever. I love how they secretly loved eachother from the beginning. I love the glimpses we got when Etienne let slip that he loves Anna. I love how Anna had to secretly pine over him because he had a girlfriend. I love how easily they could talk to eachother. I love how in sync they were. I love how I learned what love wasn’t – and that’s Anna’s projected ‘love’ of Toph. I adored the Parisien setting.

This book is hands-down the best romance novel I have ever read in my entire life.

Favorite Quotes

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

“Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?”

“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.”

“I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I’m not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it.”

“Madame Guillotine gets mad at me. Not because I told them to shove it, but because I didn’t say it in French. What is wrong with this school?”- (Literally made me laugh out loud so hard!)

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Him

Him

He’s beautiful. She doesn’t even know if he knows it. His eyes are so pretty, pretty, pretty, like dew drops. His smile breaks off in his face like the first light of the sun in the summer, and her heart blooms and blossoms and succumbs like the fluttery flowers in spring.

She is so dreadfully, horribly, hauntingly, helplessly in love with him. And he doesn’t even know it.

When their eyes meet from across the room, it’s like an electric shock to her veins, her thick blood melting; it suffocates the words in her throat, bubbling, struggling, to come out. And her brain just stops working. She loses any idea of who she is and where she is and what she’s saying when he’s looking at her, and she’s frozen in the headlights that are his eyes. She’s rendered mute, immobile.

She’s tripping over her words like they’re elusive butterflies and she’s choking on nonsensities, and she can’t speak, can’t breathe, she’s so terrified. Terrified that he’ll see it. That just one look at her and she’ll melt, a buttery pastry mess all over the floor and right at his feet.

But he never sees. He’ll never know.

She doesn’t even want him to smile at her. If he smiles that smile at her, her eyes will widen like great big discs of I-Like-You and her tongue will be a useless flap stuck in her mouth.

She curses her naivete. He’ll never love her. Too many other people love him, people smarter, and funner, and funnier, and more good looking, and more outspoken than herself. She can’t cap her feelings in a jar and translate them into words, they’ll turn into birds and flap away and desert her mouth, an empty cage.

Maybe she has a thing for leader-type guys. He can handle a crowd, and when he speaks, people listen. But he’s a goofball, and he’s funny, and she’s discovered his wry, dry humor and sharp wit.

Electric. Her attraction to him is electric and one day it’ll set her on fire and burn her up, burn her out, until there’s nothing left but smoke and flame and tears and regret.

But that same electricity kindles her heart, that burning hope that pulsates inside her, that lovesick warmth that radiates within her, that comes from exchanging just a few words with and him giving her that smile of friendliness and respect, leaving her all gooey and syrupy and melting inside.

He just has to look at her, and her heart stops, skips a beat. Her love for him is squeezing her heart painfully in its iron tight grip and it’ll never let her go. But she needs to let him go.

Because he’ll never feel one ounce, one droplet, one cinder, of the all-encompassing, tumultuous, terrible, overpowering, interminable love she holds for him.