Here’s two hours worth of music for when you need to do a lot of thinking.
Whether or not you’re a practicing Catholic, Holy Week presents a great time for reflection. So even if you’re lounging around at home, or off on an adventure somewhere more exciting, we’re sure some free-and-easy alone time is penciled into your itinerary. In place of silence, a solid playlist is all you need for a couple of hours of introspection.
And because we know that it’s important to clear head and only listen to your own thoughts sometimes, we’ve come up with a playlist without vocals. Knock yourself out with a select variety featuring local “mute musicians” like Tom’sStory and tide/edit, elaborate instrumentals by ExplosionsinTheSky, to the OSTs of Amelie, PearlHarbor, and CallMeByYourName. There’s more but we’ll leave it up to you to press shuffle.
Romance is made palpable in this melancholy portrait of first love
Call Me By Your Name opens by announcing its setting: “somewhere in Northern Italy.” It is the summer of 1983, and precocious teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) has to give up his room for his father’s visiting 24-year-old graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer). The two have a somewhat contentious relationship at first, with Oliver’s vivacious personality creating friction with Elio’s more aloof attitude. But it becomes clear after a point that there is a real attraction between the two. And over the six weeks of the summer, the two contend with this attraction, concerned over matters of propriety, identity, and the inevitability of their parting.
What is immediately striking once Oliver enters the picture is how he fills up any space he’s in. The film casts the six-foot-five Armie Hammer in the role of Oliver, and the reasoning behind the choice becomes apparent really quickly. This is a film that is keenly aware of physicality, the attraction between the two characters made palpable through the presentation of their bodies. The film basically plays Oliver as a force of nature, an undeniable physical presence that draws the main character in. With Elio, we see the the slight hesitation, the tension that he keeps in his shoulders, the choices that he isn’t prepared to make quite yet.
The film puts this little romance in a bubble. It is localized, and temporal, destined to be little more than a memory. A fond one, to be sure, but a memory nonetheless. But the film lingers in the moment, drawing out every detail of their developing flirtation, reveling in the fantasy of first love, swimming in the thick soup of confusing emotions that come with a sexual awakening. Within the bubble, the film is able to shut almost everything else out, the world at large never truly a concern for these two as they chase the pleasure of each other’s company. For a little while, at least, they can simply be together.
There don’t seem to be any ambitions beyond this, really, but there is already something remarkable in the simple depiction of this small romance. The film is so expressive, so assured in its portrayal of this attraction that it manages to reach out in compelling ways. Politics aren’t so much ignored as they are immaterial, the film drilling down into the primacy of attraction, never letting the outside world intrude into this aching fantasy of a singular love. Everything in the film plays out realistically, but it still manages to feel like a dream. It works with the recognition that romance brings strange, magnetic grace to the clumsiness of our physical forms.
And while this film is finely directed and wonderfully written, a lot of its appeal is drawn from the undeniable chemistry between the two lead actors. This is a star making for Timothée Chalamet, who is incongruously assured as an actor for being so young. And then there is Armie Hammer, whose mere physical presence is a key component to the power of this romance. Words almost become meaningless when the two are on screen. It doesn’t really matter what they’re saying, because their faces convey everything that needs to be said.
Call Me By Your Name is notable for how simple it is, and the depths of resonance it finds in the story of these two young lovers. The movie feels like an escape, but with the recognition of the melancholy that comes when one has to return to the real world, where things get messier, and people generally don’t get what they want. But the movie gives its characters a brief moment in the sun, and it makes those moments matter. By the end, we understand that no matter what happens, neither one of them is ever going to forget this experience. And the audience is left with their own indelible images to contemplate.
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.