I have a ticket tonight to Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water which just won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival this weekend and if I can be released from the red carpet I’m covering before 930pm, I’ll be able to see how it holds up against my favourite film, not only of TIFF, but of the year so far – Call Me By Your Name.
As you know, Luca Guadagnino’s CMBYN came out of Sundance with all kinds of hype. At the press screening in Toronto a few weeks ago, everyone in my theatre came out of there practically gushing…and horny. That’s probably a too low classy assessment of a film that isn’t low classy at all. Or maybe it is, intentionally, in the best way. The way that the best art is often both low classy and high classy, organically. CMBYN is a story about a summer crush, about summer love, about the first time your feelings take over everything. It’s also about how we communicate our feelings, both verbally and non-verbally. So the language becomes a character too – Elio, played by Timothee Chalamet, transitions seamlessly from English to French to Italian, depending on his mood, on who he’s with, on what he’s trying to say, or not say. This is not just limited to his interactions with Armie Hammer’s Oliver either. This is how Elio communicates with his family, his friends, and himself.
Which is what makes Timothee so special – and, um, my new obsession. While this is certainly the best performance of Armie Hammer’s career, and the chemistry between them is incredible, the revelation of the film is Timothee Chalamet. He’s exquisite. And as cliché as this sounds, he does more in a single breath than some actors do with two pages of dialogue. It’s impossible to walk away from this film and not be a little bit in love with him.
There is no reason why CMBYN can’t go all the way to the Oscars as one of the nominated films for Best Picture. It’s all here – the writing, the cinematography, the music, and a performance by a veteran actor, Michael Stuhlbarg, that is just as powerful and as moving as the romance on which this story is built. That scene, and you’ll know what I mean when you see the film, will make your heart bigger, and your lungs bigger, or at least you’ll want them to get bigger so that you can take in everything that is possible. It’s a gorgeous feeling, and I can’t wait for you to experience it.
Michael Stuhlbarg did not come to Toronto with Luca, Timothee, and Armie. I’m curious to see if he’ll become more of a presence as we get deeper into award season because he’s probably the one with the best chance of a nomination – and a possible win – for Best Supporting Actor. People are talking about Michael the same way they talked about Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. He’s worked with practically everyone in Hollywood, a classic yeoman’s actor that the Academy loves to reward in the supporting category. If the studio puts in the resources behind his campaign, he should be going into the Oscars as a favourite.
Right now, though, it’s all about Timothee and Armie, and it’s hard to argue with putting their faces out in front of this film. CMBYN is built around their chemistry and their charisma, both individually and together. I interviewed them together on Saturday at the junket. They were adorable. Timothee has three films at TIFF. Armie had three films at TIFF last year. For a young actor, that’s a big deal. It’s a moment. But Armie didn’t know about Timothee’s moment because, as he told me, Timothee didn’t tell him. It was an interesting exchange, because what Armie was implying was that these moments don’t happen often, and when they do happen, with the kind of prestige projects that Timothee is attached to, you need to capitalise on that hype.
A few of you have emailed to ask me whether or not there are similarities between Timothee today and Ezra Miller a few years ago. Ezra was in a similar position, coming to TIFF with the same kind of potential, that same magic. And they both have a certain flair about how they carry themselves. The attitudes are totally different though. Ezra Miller was a punk. He’s not a punk anymore. He’s become a lot more open to showing enthusiasm, even earnest at times, about his work but it took a while, and a lot of Try, to get to that point. Right now, there’s none of that in Timothee. He’s excited – and he’s not too cool to show that he’s excited. At the same time, he’s not right up in your face with himself either. Timothee Chalamet is in that sweet spot, that brief ride at the beginning of what could be a big career, when everything is perfect, when what you’re giving is exactly how much they want to take, when fame lures you into believing that balance is possible – not unlike the illusion of summer love, and what Elio and Oliver had that summer in Italy when they told each other to “call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine”. It doesn’t last, it never does. But nothing else that comes after will ever feel that pure. First love, first fame, it’s the same.
Seriously. This movie made me a shipper. I can’t wait to ship them together in November.
they really couldn't stare harder if they tried pic.twitter.com/tJ7cpzw7Zj— cmbyn updates (@cmbynupdates) September 3, 2017