Deux lucides lectures californiennes de Call me by your name et du jeu de ses acteurs, sur le site de Seventh Row

— Ecrit le mardi 20 mars 2018 dans la rubriqueBlogs, Cinéma”.

En surfant sur le web,

et alors même que je me plaignais de n’avoir rencontré, pour l’essentiel, que des lectures bien superficielles du pourtant si captivant film de Luca Guadagnino Call me by your name,

voici que je m’aperçois,

et avec le retard que nécessitait une réelle lecture !,

de la très haute teneur en lucidité d’un article

vers lequel,

mais en l’ayant bien trop rapidement seulement survolé alors, Armie Hammer is much more than an object of desire in CMBYN _ il est vrai que c’était la justesse de son titre qui m’avait, bien sûr, interpellé ! _,

renvoyait, mais sans y insister, au passage, au vol…,

mon précédent article du 12 mars dernier : Call me by your name : le captivant film de Luca Guadagnino ;

et qu’amené ainsi à regarder d’un peu près ce que proposait, sur ce sujet, ce site (californien, basé à San Francisco) intitulé Seventh Row,

je découvre plusieurs autres passionnants et tout aussi lucides et magnifiques articles…

Sur la série des sept proposés par Seventh Row, du 11 au 18 décembre 2017 :

Words are futile devices: On Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name

Our six favourite scenes from the first half of CMBYN

Review: Call Me by Your Name is a gorgeous, erotic tale of first love

Keeping a straight face: How CMBYN‘s queer characters get misread

Our five favourite scenes from the second half of CMBYN

Armie Hammer is more than an object of desire in CMBY

‘You’re missing it!’: Tricks with time in Call Me by Your Name

voici l’intégralité des deux qui concernent les qualités d’interprétation des rôles d’Elio

et Oliver

par les magnifiques Timothée Chalamet

et Armie Hammer ;

ainsi que la qualité de direction d’acteurs du superbe Luca Guadagnino :

D’abord l’article Words are futile devices: On Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name

concernant Timothée Chalamet :


Words are futile devices: On Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name

In Call Me by Your Name, Timothée Chalamet conveys how words aren’t enough for Elio _ en effet. His body reveals the feelings he leaves unspoken _ c’est exactement cela : quel acteur ! quel travail de préparation, puis d’incarnation ! Et quelle direction d’acteur, aussi, de la part de Luca Guadagnino !

When Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) finds the courage to speak and tell his family’s summer house guest, Oliver (Armie Hammer), how he really feels about him, he does so indirectly. The 17-year-old’s words are futile devices, posing questions more than providing answers. Words alone can’t convey the enormity of Elio’s feelings for the 24-year-old American graduate student. His body, moving closer to Oliver’s, speaks more clearly _ voilà. The question “Is it better to speak or to die?” – drawn from a medieval tale in which a young knight anxiously wonders if the woman he loves feels the same way – echoes throughout Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name.

Timothée Chalamet’s performance as Elio reveals just how out of synch Elio’s words and actions are when it comes to his burgeoning desire for Oliver. Elio is a character who barely speaks ; when he does, he’s rarely able to say what he means. Chalamet’s line readings convey how Elio’s precocious intelligence and bookish knowledge are a shield against his lack of life experience. As the son of an academic, Elio has faith that language can reveal the truth about the world ; that words give ideas a discernible shape. But Oliver’s arrival completely dismantles this _ Elio n’ y étant en rien préparé ! Elio comes to understand his desire for Oliver through his body, not his mind _ c’est cela.

Revealing his true feelings is a risk _ forcément : s’exposer en pareille matière d’intimité est ultra-dangereux _ for Elio. He protects himself _ d’abord _ by keeping his distance from Oliver and he’s initially abrasive when he does venture closer. Elio is aware of this flaw. After their piano flirtation, we see Elio scribbling in his diary that he had previously been “too harsh” towards Oliver. Even when Elio is ready to tell Oliver how he feels, he stumbles over words and circumvents what he really means. When Elio and Oliver walk around the Battle of Piave monument, Oliver’s question, “Is there anything you don’t know?” is a loaded one. About to divulge how he feels, Elio says that he knows little _ si peu _ about “the things that matter”, but isn’t able to elaborate aloud on what those things are. “You know what things”, he says, instead. Chalamet’s emphasis on ‘things’ poses an innocent challenge _ en effet : charge à Oliver d’y répondre. He looks up, hoping the older man will speak for him.

‘Elio has faith that language can reveal the truth about the world. Oliver’s arrival dismantles this.’

If words _ à propos de choses si délicates _ don’t come easily to Elio, Chalamet’s performance makes sure that his physical and facial gestures are less ambiguous _ oui. We see this when Oliver doesn’t show up for dinner one night early in his stay. With an exaggerated flourish of his hand, Elio mocks Oliver’s habit of saying “Later !”. But behind this air of irritated indifference, Chalamet lets Elio reveal _ oui _ something more fragile. As the housekeeper, Mafalda (Vanda Capriolo), removes Oliver’s plate from the table, Elio’s attitude shifts from swagger to disappointment. His eyes are visibly wet and close to tears as he looks towards his mother _ éminemment consolatrice, en toute discrétion : magnifique Amira Casar, aussi _ for reassurance and comfort. That night, Elio is restless and horny. We see him tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. Chalamet’s sharp, jerky movements reveal once again how Elio’s body betrays his words. He might seem impervious to Oliver, but something is clearly stirring inside him.

Without first-person narration to bring us inside Elio’s head (as André Aciman uses in the novel _ et qu’à la différence du projet d’adaptation initial de James Ivory, Luca Guadagnino a délibérément choisi d’écarter _), we access his inner life almost entirely through Chalamet’s physical performance _ voilà : et c’est beaucoup plus fort. Guadagnino favours wide shots over close ups, which demand that Chalamet use all of his slight, lanky body to show us how Elio feels. He varies his posture, shrugs his shoulders, slumps, and struts to communicate the tumultuous mess that lies beneath Elio’s seemingly calm surface _ c’est parfaitement observé. Chalamet’s body shows us that Elio’s confidence is increasing, too _ mais oui, progressivement, pas à pas. When Elio takes Oliver to his secret reading place by the river, Chalamet’s spine straightens, allowing Elio to look him directly in the eye _ en effet. A two-shot captures this very deliberate incursion into Oliver’s space. Without words, we understand that Elio is daring Oliver sexually _ voilà _, as well as revealing his own emotional growth _ tout à fait : il se déclare encore indirectement, mais en même temps frontalement aussi, ainsi ; étant sur son terrain.

‘Chalamet is a watchful, unguarded performer.’

Chalamet is a watchful, unguarded performer. Elio is shy and uncertain. He reveals the most about himself when he seems to be doing nothing more than sitting, standing, sulking silently, or lying still _ et c’est bien là l’atout du cinéma, quand il est aussi bien interprété, et par l’acteur, et par le réalisateur. The tension in Chalamet’s body and face make it clear _ mais en s’abstenant de la moindre parole (ou du moins très explicite de ses raisons) ; et là le monologue intérieur du roman d’Aciman est mille fois trop bavard, et désordonné, qui plus est _ that Elio is always actively _ et pas qu’un peu : les émotions puissantes se bousculent et cognent _ thinking and feeling something. Elio’s earliest interactions with Oliver are shaped around this dynamic of looking and listening at a distance _ tout particulièrement dans le mouvement à distance des deux interlocuteurs dans la scène de la Piazzetta au monument à la Bataille du Piave. He first sees him from his bedroom window _ c’est l’ouverture même du film _ where he says to Marzia (Esther Garrel) that Oliver “seems very confident_ et la scène est bien différente dans le roman : c’est Elio qui accueille Oliver ; il ne se trouve donc pas à l’étage de la maison, en surplomb, en compagnie de Marzia… While Chalamet delivers the line with a resentful, judgmental tone, his body practically leaps to the window _ en effet _ to see Oliver, suggesting excitement and acute curiosity _ c’est cela : mais c’est aussi qu’il a déjà vu Oliver en photo, au moment du choix du nouvel invité pour l’été 1983 ; il avait donc déjà été impressionné par son image…

Whether Elio is watching Oliver from across the lawn, or as Oliver slow dances with Chiara (Victoire Du Bois), Chalamet translates _ c’est là son très grand talent _ Elio’s constant internal monologue with eyes lowered and lips often slightly parted. This gives him both a thoughtful and sensual expression _ tout à fait. At Oliver’s first breakfast with the Perlmans, Elio watches Oliver intently and silently. Guadagnino moves the camera in so we see Elio observing Oliver’s necklace, a Star of David pendant that becomes a symbol of connection _ voilà un premier terrain de compréhension _ between the two Jewish men. In addition, Oliver’s statement about his appetites — if he eats more than one oozing soft-boiled egg, he won’t be able to stop — intrigues _ tiens, tiens ! _ Elio _ en rendant compte du très fort contrôle sur soi d’Oliver ; du poids de son sur-moi. I know myself”, Oliver declares, and Chalamet registers the significance of this statement with a shift in expression _ il est bien aux aguets. Elio doesn’t speak but looks at Oliver quizzically, unsettled by this decisiveness ; he’s less sure of himself _ il a ses failles… Similarly, when Marzia tells Elio that Chiara wants Oliver “at any cost”, Elio is fascinated by this intensity of feeling — as well as the sight of Oliver moving. Both inflame his interest _ ainsi piqué au vif _ ; he leans forward in his chair, eyes wide open, biting his lip in consideration.

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer in Call Me by Your Name

Chalamet’s performance captures Elio’s insecurity and teenage arrogance _ mêlés. When Oliver attempts to take control of the situation between them, massaging Elio’s shoulder during a volleyball game, Chalamet draws attention to his confusion. The incursion into his space stops Elio dead in his tracks. Guadagnino is keenly interested in Elio’s response to being touched here. The camera moves from Elio’s shoulder around to face him and takes in how his entire body reverberates. His expression hardens. He looks stunned ; his shoulders tense. He doesn’t know what to say, except, unconvincingly, that he is relaxed. Is Elio annoyed, uncomfortable, turned on, or some combination of all of these ? The way Chalamet looks at Hammer in this scene, along with his stiff movements — stepping away, refusing to surrender his body into Oliver’s hands — captures an authentic reaction. Elio is not yet _ à ce moment encore un peu précoce _ able to read the signs that Oliver is trying to send him about his own desire _ qu’il ne comprend donc pas.

Elio’s desire for Oliver, who is so comfortable in his own skin, effectively draws him out of his head and into his body _ soit une nouveauté qu’il ne sait pas encore, à ce moment, comment prendre. Chalamet builds Elio’s aroused physicality into his performance. Once his desire is awoken, he seems to be in perpetual motion _ en effet ; et en cela suivre ses mouvements et expressions sur le vif de ce qui survient et le surprend, est d’une grande richesse pour notre observation. Chalamet employs nervy but daring physical gestures to communicate Elio’s eagerness to discover more. We see this first when Elio joins Oliver _ il court en direction Oliver, perdu dans sa danse, mais sans le rejoindre, lui, puisque c’est Marzia qu’il rejoint là, mais tout près d’Oliver, plongé dans sa danse solitaire au milieu de tous les autres… ; jusqu’à même en manquer tomber _ on the dance floor for “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs _ un des sommets d’excitation (et même sublime) du film ; Oliver étant ici seul avec ses fantômes : c’est sans doute contre (ou avec) eux qu’il « boxe«  ici… Elio zooms in and out of Oliver’s space, enjoying a new sense of physical freedom _ lui, l’intellectuel, il se lance dans la danse ; et ça va continuer… Chalamet’s body roll communicates how Elio is becoming more at ease with himself _ c’est cela : c’est avec son corps qu’il prend ici confiance. In the days after, Elio finds himself home alone and bored _ car Oliver (qui garde ici les yeux fermés) est encore hors d’atteinte de lui. He ends up in Oliver’s bedroom and places Oliver’s red swimming shorts over his face. He breathes in Oliver’s scent, absorbed in the urgency and arousal of this clandestine moment _ de fétichisme sexuel. Chalamet builds and releases sexual tension with his body, thrusting up and down slowly on the bed. With the shorts placed over Elio’s head, Guadagnino doesn’t focus simply on Chalamet’s facial expression but the full extension of his body _ oui : la connivence de jeu entre l’incarnation de l’acteur et l’intelligence magnifique de la camera est entière _ in these actions.

‘Elio’s desire for Oliver effectively draws him out of his head and into his body.’

Chalamet’s performance deepens as Elio’s experience does. Gestures highlight Elio’s inexperience and hungry enthusiasm _ entremêlés. We see that Elio is propelled by desire and fear _ très logiquement : il lui faut vaincre et surmonter le vertige du trouble… _ in equal parts. His moves towards Oliver are tentative and exploratory _ peu à peu. Elio’s fingers reach out to touch Oliver’s face and neck during a foot massage ; his tongue explores Oliver’s lips, not daring to venture further in _ pour le moment ; l’avancée procède pas à pas _ ; he playfully bites Oliver’s shoulder and practically scampers up his body before they have sex.

In the lead up to, during, and after Elio and Oliver sleep together, Elio’s feelings continue _ c’est logique, et nous suivons cela… _ to travel a turbulent course. We see his insecurity before they fall into bed, as Oliver takes the lead and undresses more quickly. We see it when Elio wakes up, confused, maybe unsure about what has happened between them ; he is once again cool and remote. While Oliver warmly moves closer, Elio sits up and draws his body away, turning his head to the window. Chalamet conveys the full impact of Elio’s experience with Oliver. Having sex isn’t simply the achievement of an ultimate goal, but an event that unleashes ecstasy, confusion and further self-doubt _ c’est complexe, en effet ; mais l’appréhender par les mouvements et expressions sans mot de l’acteur est bien plus efficace que par les élucubrations contradictoires et confuses du monologue intérieur d’une voix-off, comme dans le roman. Ce cinéma physique et sobre là est bien mieux éloquent !

Call Me by Your Name concludes with an extended close-up sequence _ un très long plan détaillé _ of Elio’s face _ seulement _ that highlights the wisdom and authenticity of Chalamet’s performance. It is Hanukkah, the winter after the summer that has changed _ à jamais même ! _ Elio’s life. After a devastating phone call from Oliver _ qui a cette fois pris l’initiative ; à distance (protectrice pour lui), il est vrai, de l’océan entre eux deux _, Elio sits down in front of the fireplace, ostensibly seated before the camera, and silently expresses his grief. He cries. He aches. He gets angry. There is a flash of a smile ; a joyous memory _ aussi. Perhaps bittersweet acceptance and resolution, too. For several minutes, as the credits roll and Sufjan Stevens sings the line, “I have loved you for the last time” (from the song “Visions of Gideon”), Chalamet doesn’t speak and barely moves, beyond subtle modulations of his mouth, eyes, and breath _ voilà, sans hystérie. Yet he does everything required to bruise our hearts while showing us that Elio’s is caving in.

‘Chalamet’s eyes reveal the memory of the ecstasy of being with Oliver and the agony of losing him.’

Chalamet’s eyes reveal both the memory of the ecstasy of Elio’s time with Oliver _ et pour toujours _ and the immense agony of losing him _ à jamais, en même temps. It is no exaggeration to say that, through them, he allows us to see inside his soul. In a film of acutely sensitive moments, what Chalamet does here, as Elio breaks down and begins to put himself together again, is very special. It’s a completely transparent performance _ quel talent ! There are no masks. Mr Perlman (Michael Stulhbarg) has wisely advised his son _ c’est en effet important _ not to make himself “feel nothing so as not to feel anything”. Here, Chalamet exposes how Elio feels it all. We do, too — the totality of his experience of first love, from lust to heartbreak. No words required _ le fond de l’art du cinéma, fondamentalement physique, est bien de l’ordre du muet. Guadagnino has described Chalamet as a “beautiful, budding flower”, but in Call Me By Your Name, he is truly an actor in full bloom _ c’est parfaitement vrai. Chapeau l’artiste !

Et maintenant l’article Armie Hammer is more than an object of desire in CMBYN

concernant Armie Hammer :


Armie Hammer is more than an object of desire in CMBYN

In Call Me by Your Name, Armie Hammer’s performance as Oliver weaponizes his star persona, allowing us to misread his character in the same way that Elio does. This is the sixth piece in our Special Issue on Call Me by Your Name. Read the rest of the issue here.

Armie Hammer has spent his entire career _ jusquà ce film-ci non compris _ playing _ sans rien forcer, tant c’est massivement évident _ the object of our desire. Leave it to the ‘proper’ actors to go deep ; Hammer shall play the pretty face, with his blue-eyed, golden-haired, six-foot-five, all-American good looks. His star appeal is almost too obvious _ mais oui ! _, as if he’d been hand-crafted by the Hollywood machine to embody _ avec le plus grand naturel _ everything it represents : dashing looks, easy charm, and casual comfort in his own skin _ c’est dit.

From the beginning of his career, studios have leapt at the chance to cast him as all the classic archetypes _ oui, sans rien avoir à forcer _ : western hero, Russian spy, literally Prince Charming. Even his critically-acclaimed breakout performance — as the arrogant, preppy, Harvard-educated Winklevoss twins in The Social Network — perpetuated the idea of Hammer as an extrovert _ voilà _with extraordinary self-assurance _ en forme de bénéfice immédiat sans conteste… Role after role after role has taught us unequivocally who Armie Hammer is supposed to be : a matinée idol, impossibly polished, masculine to a fault _ oui.

Luca Guadagnino is the first director to not only recognise that perception, but weaponize it. In Call Me by Your Name, 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) is taken aback to discover that, underneath a varnished surface, Hammer’s Oliver is a man with fear, pain, and desires of his own _ voilà : on ne peut plus humainement, enfin… In casting Hammer, Guadagnino allows us to go on the same complex journey as Elio _ mais oui _ : we are entranced and infatuated by Hammer’s image, and therefore just as disarmed as Elio is to discover _ c’est cela, par-delà le vernis poli, joliment glacé et brillant, de l’image _ the complex man (and gifted actor _ et combien ! _) hiding underneath his intimidating, statuesque beauty. As unfathomable as it might seem given his leading-man looks, Hammer has the talent, the bravery, and the will _ oui : c’en est même héroïque ! _ to strip away every trace of that persona and expose his soul _ rien moins ! ôtés tous les masques (et vêtements !!!) _ on screen.

‘Guadagnino is the first director to not only recognise our impossibly polished perception of Hammer, but weaponize it.’

At the start of Call Me by Your Name, Oliver seems like a physical manifestation of everything Elio wants and aspires to be _ en terme d’idéal de virilité accomplie. Elio desires Oliver in much the same way that we have been expected to desire Hammer in his previous films ; in the words of Elio’s mother (Amira Casar), Oliver is “la muvi star”, a label _ hollywoodien _ Hammer carries with ease. Oliver’s near arrogant self-assurance, and the confidence with which he inhabits his body _ c’est même impressionnant _, are irresistible _ en effet _ to the gangly and uncertain Elio. Guadagnino repeatedly shoots Hammer from below, gazing up at his perfection just as Elio does, such as when he downs a glass of apricot juice in one go ; Elio takes small sips. Oliver drinks life _ oui _ in with relish and without hesitation _ selon les plus évidentes, massives et très persuasives apparences. Qui pourrait le contester ?

‘Hammer has the talent, the bravery, and the will to strip away every trace of persona and expose his soul on screen.’

His exaggerated cool attitude comes close to being a caricature of the ‘object of desire’ _ voilà ; or, derrière ce presque trop parfait objet (de désir), nous allons découvrir un sujet (actif !) beaucoup plus incertain, et bien plus humain (et touchant), lui… Guadagnino’s camera either deifies Oliver from below, or objectifies him, adopting Elio’s gaze _ en effet, d’abord pris, mais un peu plus tard, décillé _ when he observes Oliver from afar and above. When Elio watches Oliver from his balcony, Oliver seems present only as an object to be gazed at and lusted after _ voilà _ by his desirer. Hammer’s movements are quick and decisive : he jumps off his bike before it’s even stopped moving and strides confidently forward while removing his shirt _ en tout geste capté par le regard. He teases the camera, and the lens glorifies him in return. Guadagnino and his star indulge our impulse to fawn over Hammer’s good looks, tricking us into objectifying his character. After watching Oliver from the balcony, Elio lies back on his bed and begins to masturbate _ comme devant une image (fût-elle, comme ici, mentale) _, Oliver still on his mind _ c’est l’élément moteur de l’excitation. He takes pleasure solely from Oliver’s appearance and projected confidence ; his star persona.

‘Oliver drinks life in with relish and without hesitation.’

In the earlier scenes of Call Me by Your Name, Oliver is guarded, and Guadagnino’s camera doesn’t question the ‘easy read’ of his attitude. Oliver is an enigma _ oui ! faute d’aspérité offerte, directement visible _ to Elio and to us : he hides his eyes behind sunglasses and is often too far from the camera for his expression to be discerned _ ici, c’est le talent de la réalisation qui aide… Elio perceives _ mal _ Oliver’s seemingly indifferent attitude as rudeness, and interprets _ à tort _ the impromptu backrub Oliver gives him as casual and too-forward. Elio is the more active character in the frame in this scene _ en effet _ : our attention is drawn to his shifting body (which is foregrounded), along with his face, which flits wildly between indignation, annoyance, panic, and swooning.

‘Hammer teases the camera, and the lens glorifies him in return.’

We’re so busy reading the open book that Chalamet is during the backrub that we only spare a cursory glance in Hammer’s direction, and thus take his ‘don’t care’ attitude as given. Our focus on Elio’s rather demonstrative reaction distracts us _ mais oui _ from the hesitant cracks _ tiens, tiens ! _ in Oliver’s voice, or his nervous intake of breath as he realises he may have taken things a step too far. “I think he’s shy”, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) muses one night over dinner, but that explanation seems ridiculous to Elio at the time. As the film later reveals, Oliver’s outward confidence is indeed a veil _ de protection _ to insecurity, but a veil so opaque _ pour le moment _ that Elio cannot imagine _ pour le moment, donc _ what might be behind it. Neither can we _ en effet _ ; throughout his whole career, the characters Hammer has played have behaved just as Oliver does, so why would we _ du moins, les familiers du cinéma hollywoodien _ question that behaviour this time around ?

Yet from the beginning, Guadagnino punctuates the film with subtle hints at Oliver’s complex inner life by demonstrating his independence _ voilà _ from Elio’s gaze — he exists as a fully-fledged human being, and not just an aspirational object _ pour Elio. His work as Mr. Perlman’s research assistant, and his relationship with Chiara (Victoire Du Bois) either happen off-screen, or are seen from a distance. When Elio and Oliver are walking through Crema together, Elio is surprised _ et nous avec lui _ to learn that Oliver has already befriended a group of men with whom he plays poker. It’s a reminder that Oliver has a life elsewhere _ en effet ! _ that Elio doesn’t have access to _ Oliver n’est donc pas sa chose. ; non plus qu’un simple sex-toy pour Elio ; Oliver a sa vie à lui, et même sa vie secrète ; qu’il sait assez bien cacher…

‘Guadagnino and his star indulge our impulse to fawn over Hammer’s good looks, tricking us into objectifying him.’

We are even allowed a glimpse of Oliver when he is not being watched by anyone, let alone Elio, in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene early on that plants the seeds of the singular, complicated _ voilà _ person we will soon know Oliver to be. On his first morning at the Perlman’s villa, we watch him descend the stairs from his bedroom, alone. He runs his hand over the fabric on the walls, searching the corridor for signs of life, and peers through gaps in the wall at Mrs. Perlman preparing breakfast with her maid, Mafalda. He is careful _ oui, il en a l’habitude, donc _ to remain out of sight from them — the audience alone is privy to this intimate moment, in which we follow Oliver’s gaze in the same way that we usually follow Elio’s. Oliver is not only an object of Elio’s curiosity _ voilà, voilà ! _, but also a man with curiosities of his own _ en effet ; et nous allons peu à peu le découvrir, avec (et grâce à) Elio ; et même là le principal ressort de l’intrigue.

‘At first, Elio takes pleasure solely from Oliver’s appearance and projected confidence ; his star persona.’

Call Me by Your Name is the story of Elio’s coming of age _ oui _, but as he and Oliver become more intimate _ voilà _ and begin to understand each other _ oui ; et très intimement aussi… _, we are allowed access to Oliver’s perspective _ voilà _, too _ c’est tout à fait cela. We are no longer alongside Elio, looking for clues to what Oliver gets up to when Elio’s not around. Instead, we get a direct line _ oui _ to the man himself. Shortly before Elio confesses his feelings to Oliver, Guadagnino signals this shift in perspective : we see Oliver’s foot swaying back and forth in the water of the Perlmans’ swimming pool, echoing an earlier shot of Elio gazing down at Oliver’s half naked body submerged in the same water. But a cut away to Oliver’s face — unseen by a distant Elio — reveals that Oliver’s foot can only be seen by himself, and is not the subject of a longing gaze as his body was before. Watching it float idly is a private moment that we are privy to, because Guadagnino is asking us _ voilà _ to see the world through Oliver’s eyes. Guadagnino challenges _ oui, c’est très bien vu ! _ the perception he had previously indulged : that Oliver is an empty vessel onto which Elio can project his desires.

‘It’s a reminder that Oliver has a life elsewhere that Elio doesn’t have access to.’

As Guadagnino gives us more access to Oliver’s perspective, his bravado is revealed to be a performance _ seulement ! _ put on for others. It disappears only when he’s not being watched, or later, when he allows himself to be vulnerable with Elio. Oliver’s suave masculinity is practiced : he walks with a strut and clips his sunglasses onto his shirt or shorts in one, swift motion ; the comparatively inexperienced Elio fumbles when trying to execute the same move. Oliver tries to exert ownership over Chiara in an attempt to demonstrate that he fits in with the perceived conventions of heterosexual attraction. While Elio watches, Oliver kisses her with insistence and possessively wraps his arm around her — but as soon as he turns away, Hammer’s controlled, disingenuous smile drops and his face becomes blank ; his romancing of her is all a performance _ voilà, seulement pour donner le change… Il pratique l’art de la dissimulation. When he is with Elio (for whom he holds genuine affection) later in the film _ ses protections tombant… _, his behaviour is far more cautious, considerate, and respectful _ enfin vraiment aimant…

‘Oliver is not only an object of Elio’s curiosity, but also a man with curiosities of his own.’

We know practically nothing _ en effet : du moins peu de choses _ about Oliver’s life outside of this summer in 1983, ‘somewhere in northern Italy’, and Oliver wants it that way _ étant plus que discret sur lui-même, et sur sa vie ailleurs. Freed of the baggage of backstory _ laissé chez lui, outre Atlantique, en Nouvelle-Angleterre _, he becomes a blank slate onto which the people around him, and the viewer, are able to project _ seulement _ an image _ soit un cliché : ça lui est non seulement commode, mais même nécessaire _ of the American male ideal _ un cliché (cinéma hollywoodien aidant !) quasi universalement partagé… Hammer’s casting _ en effet _ further encourages us to see Oliver this way, as he has always maintained that ideal throughout his career _ d’acteur brillant à Hollywood. Most of his characters can be sorted into suave, heroic, or stoic archetypes — but if they had rich inner lives that revealed sensitivity, it wouldn’t be so easy to reduce them to one thing. We, and Elio, reduce Oliver to a “muvi star” at first precisely because he cultivates _ pour avoir la paix _ his own enigma.

‘Guadagnino challenges the perception he had previously indulged : that Oliver is an empty vessel onto which Elio can project his desires.’

Hammer is not simply coasting on our shallow perceptions of him, though ; his Oliver is a thoughtfully conceived character with a backstory _ bien sûr ! _, even if the latter is scarcely _ oui _ revealed in any explicit way. Hammer’s body language and voice work grant us access _ mais pas très aisément, pour Elio le premier… _ to Oliver’s past : after Elio and Oliver have sex, Oliver casually cleans his own chest with his shirt and candidly reassures Elio over his concern that Mafalda will look for signs _ de sperme _ : “Don’t worry, she won’t find any”. His assurance hints at years of training to hide _ à ses proches _ his same-sex relationships _ voilà _, and to appear more masculine than he might naturally want to be _ voilà _ in order to appease his parents _ voilà : il ne prononcera qu’à la fin, in extremis, le mot de « père » à propos de ce qu’aurait fait, chez lui, son père, s’il avait découvert les pratiques homosexuelles de son fils… ; soit le représentant (ou l’origine) de son propre Sur-Moi.

During his final _ et a posteriori _ phone conversation _ cruciale ; elle est la clé de la révélation des énigmes du comportement d’Oliver l’été précédent, à Crema _ with Elio in the film, this subtext is _ enfin pour notre compréhension, à nous surtout, de son comportement _ made text. He’s envious of the Perlmans’ acceptance _ tout particulièrement de la part du père d’Elio, le Professeur Perlman _ of Elio’s relationship with a man : “You’re so lucky. My father _ voilà !!! _ would have carted me off to a correctional facility_ voilà ; mais Oliver est-il jamais sorti de cette soumission à son père ? Only now, when the summer is over _ et qu’Oliver se trouve loin, de l’autre côté de l’océan _ , is Oliver willing to speak about his past. But that past was already evident _ ah ! _ in Hammer’s physicality _ ses cachotteries et son malaise. No matter how hard Oliver tries to separate himself from it, his history is ingrained _ oui ! _  in every fibre of his being _ d’un habitant de Nouvelle-Angleterre ?

Hammer’s performance is all about the peeling back of protective layers to expose the man inside. He shows the difference between Oliver’s constructed self and true self through the variation in his voice _ à mieux repérer… In the beginning, he speaks with the same resonant, deep, and amiable tone that we know Armie Hammer for — in previous roles, and in interviews _ à Holywood. But after Elio confesses his feelings and makes himself vulnerable, Hammer starts to break down _ voilà _ his own public persona. Oliver’s voice gradually becomes gentler _ ah ! _ because he, too, is allowing himself _ oui : il va lui aussi se livrer : à Elio _ to be vulnerable _ du fait de sa complète dénudation envers Elio. The night they have sex, Oliver has finally gathered the courage to expose his true self completely _ mon cœur mis à nu… His whispered greeting of “I’m glad you came” comes out almost as a whimper _ voilà. It’s a startling moment precisely because it comes from an actor who has built his image _ voilà _ on macho sturdiness _ certes. Nobody _ d’un peu familier du cinéma hollywoodien _ ever imagined he could sound so fragile _ et si humain…

‘Hammer is an actor who has built his image on macho sturdiness. Nobody ever imagined he could sound so fragile.’

Guadagnino lingers _ oui _ on this surprising development, and is far more interested in observing Oliver during the ‘morning after’ than he is the suddenly despondent Elio : why show a face that’s closed off when you have one that’s willing to bare its soul ? Hammer’s gestures and expressions aren’t calculated anymore _ enfin ! _ ; his adoring, open-hearted gaze at Elio _ oui _ is striking and emotionally disarming _ oui ! _ because, for the first time in the actor’s career, he has a complete lack of affectation _ il s’est en effet dépouillé du reste. There’s _ enfin _ no amiable wit, self-deprecation, or bravado to shield him.

As Oliver lies in bed watching Elio silently get dressed, his defenceless smile _ oui _ wilts into concerned fear. He reads _ à tort _ Elio’s indifference as rejection : now that Elio knows who Oliver is underneath the mystique, does he prefer the idea of Oliver that he had before ? Hammer’s change of expression is heart-breaking because we know it is genuine — Oliver worked so hard to get to a point where he could completely strip away _ voilà _la muvi star”. When Elio resurfaces later that day and admits, “I just wanted to be with you”, the smile that breaks across Hammer’s face _ à nouveau _ is one of immense relief and joy that he no longer tries, or is able, to hide _ à Elio seulement.

Over the course of Call Me by Your Name’s runtime, Guadagnino and Hammer exploit, question, and then shatter the façade _ oui _ that the actor has been confined to his entire career. It’s an act of extreme meta-textual daring ; Hammer’s career will never be the same again _ ce point est tout à fait intéressant ! Nous allons bien voir… _, now that he has shown us the truth _ voilà _ behind the false fronts that many of his previous characters maintained. In the final act of the film, at the highest point of Elio’s and Oliver’s intimacy, Hammer completely lets loose physically_ voilà… As the pair drunkenly wander the streets of Rome _ Bergamo ! _, Oliver races towards the sound of The Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” on a nearby car radio. Hammer bounds across the stone pavement, giddily screaming “You’re missing it !” His manner is silly, and filled with unchecked joy _ oui. Oliver is finally happy because he’s no longer performing ; Hammer has finally given a performance that strips away all traces of performativity _ on peut dire cela _, because he found a director _ voilà _ willing to do more than just desire him _ mais accéder au plus fragile de son humanité vraie… Sans doute…


Deux magnifiques articles, par Joanna Di Mattia et Orla Smith, sur le site de Seventh Row, à San Francisco, les 11 et 16 décembre derniers.

Bravo !!!

Ce mardi 20 mars 2018, Titus Curiosus – Francis Lippa



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