Call Me By Your Name is the story of a grad-student, a man in his mid-20s, grooming a 17-year old boy for sex, thinking better of it, and then giving in anyway. In between the sodomy the young Jewish men bicycle around small Italian towns, speak pretentiously, and have dalliances with women to incite jealousy. That’s it. The 1980s-set film, an adaptation of an André Aciman novel of the same name directed by Luca Guadagnino, is a tonal experience, as many forbidden romance and travelogue-types alike usually are.
It cannot be denied how good Timothée Chalamet’s performance is as the precocious teen in a foreign land. He wears the role in his physicality, which is something to say for a film where nothing really happens. The last shot over the credits is a high ask. So, too, are the short shorts-wearing Armie Hammer (as the pedophile) and Michael Stuhlburg (as the boy’s aloof academic father) good at acting. They all manifest as real people, misguided though they may be.
While the two central men are both playing much younger, they both seem of their actual ages which helps the pedophilia aspect (but not much). There is also a sex act involving a piece of fruit which puts Jason Biggs and an American pie to shame in the shame department. Beyond all that, the literal “calling me by your name” stuff is messed up shit no matter the ages or the sex. It is dangerous co-dependence and psychological projection. The film is the epitome of the degradation of our culture regarding sex and unworthy of your time, no matter the curiosity.