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'Call Me by Your Name' doesn't live up to hype

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BOY TALK  Director Luca Guadagnino’s study of love and beauty is lovely to look at but rather hollow as its core.
  • BOY TALK Director Luca Guadagnino’s study of love and beauty is lovely to look at but rather hollow as its core.

As New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis says "you don't just watch Luca Guadagnino's movies, you swoon into them." The director's latest, however, invites not a swoon but a pitch forward into a doze.

Call Me by Your Name focuses on two American men in a highly unequal relationship in Italy's Lombardy region in the summer of 1983. Young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) becomes fascinated with a handsome 24-year old American student named Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Hammer is tremendously built, and watching him stride coolly through this film seems to prove F. Scott Fitzgerald's speculation that rich people are less affected by heat than the rest of us. His aloofness (he's almost rude) compliments Elio's personality. Oliver strokes the boy with one hand and pushes him away with the other, leaving Elio notes that say things like "Grow up. I'll see you at midnight." Elio—so good pianist that he's bored by his own facility—has all the ruthlessness of a 17-year-old, and is twice as callow.

Call Me by Your Name has its acute moments, risky ones, as when Elio inhales the fragrance of Oliver's bathing suit or his sudden, intense lust for a peach. The film concludes with a critically praised monologue by Elio's father (Michael Stuhlbarg) about how the old are no longer capable of the kind of all-consuming love felt in youth. It's no favor to his love-scalded son, and it's hardly true. Age does what it can to put the brakes on the folly of romantic love, but of course it never stops, all the way to the grave.

Director Luca Guadagnino show us the townscapes of Crema, Italy, the country roads, stunning waterfalls—this is where the swoon comes in. The film is getting great reviews. But do people love the movie, or do they love the real estate?

'Call Me by Your Name' is playing at Summerfield Cinemas, 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 707.525.8909..

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