Timothée Chalamet had a pretty good year in 2017, if you ask me. Besides appearing in 2 films nominated for Best Picture, he also received his first Best Actor nod for playing Elio in Call Me By Your Name, making him the youngest best actor nominee.
This is a performance that has gotten rave reviews throughout the awards season, with several people listing it as their personal winner in the Best Actor category. Having said all that, I have to confess something – I don’t exactly get the hype over this performance, or even the film in general. While I think CMBYN is truly a beautiful movie (both visually and emotionally), it didn’t hit me as hard as it did for some others. It’s certainly a film that I wouldn’t mind watching over and over again. It’s relaxing, it’s moving, and as mentioned earlier, it’s certainly beautiful. However, while I couldn’t find any glaring flaws with it, it didn’t get me feeling all excited over it either. Overall, I would say it very much deserved its nominations, but that’s about it.
Essentially, what I said above is pretty much my sentiments about Chamelet’s performance. I think what drew people to the role is Chamalet’s highly relatable portrayal of growing up. Chamelet gives a very tender and beautiful performance that never rings false. For me, the strength of his performances comes in the first half of the movie; he excellently portrays Elio’s insecurities and his fear of how Oliver thinks of him, and I really loved how he showed Elio tried to mask these feelings. I especially loved the piano scene, where he played variations of Bach (I think) in an attempt to impress Oliver, but came off looking pretentious and aloof instead. Haven’t we all gone through such a phase growing up, thinking that we are smarter than we actually are? I really admired how Chamelet portrayed the way Elio became surer and surer of his feelings towards Oliver. Chamalet depicts the confusion of falling in love excellently, especially in contrast with his purely sexual relationship with the other girl Marzia.
The chemistry between Chamalet and Armie Hammer is actually terrific, if you ask me. Admittedly, I found this an odd pairing choice, casting wise, but both actors sold the romance of the characters extremely well. The latter half of this performance involves Elio’s romance with Oliver. While this part isn’t as layered as the first half, it is still extremely heartwarming to see these 2 characters fall in love. I really liked how Chamalet still manages to slip in Elio’s insecurities occasionally.
While I also find the final crying scene heartbreaking, I have to admit that I was too affected by the positive reviews of this performance to be affected by it personally. I am in no way suggesting that this is a mediocre or bad performance – and objectively, as seen by what I’ve written above, I do think it is an excellent performance. However, there’s something that’s holding me back from embracing it completely. It could be the quiet nature of the performance, but a part of me also ended up wanting something more. Like I said, I think the reason why so many loved this performance is because of how they personally identified and related to it. While I didn’t relate to it to that extent, I still highly admire it. 4.5/5.