Call Me By Your Name
It has been a year of breakout stars and indie movie success, and the coming-of-age romance, Call Me By Your Name boasts both. Based on the novel by André Aciman, the film takes place in 1980’s rural Italy and follows Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious teen spending his summer in the countryside, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a graduate student working for Elio’s father. Over the course of a sun-soaked summer, the characters navigate unexpected stirrings of hesitant romance that bloom into true connection.
Now, this isn’t the kind of gay love story we’re used to; the love interests are not threatened by physical violence, social realities, or cruel outsiders. Instead, their relationship is threatened by the kind of struggles that impede all forms of intimacy: insecurity, inexperience, guilt, fear, and the impending end of summer. Some viewers have criticized the film for its lack of any real conflict, arguing the film is devoid of any realistic fallout or complication. And while that may be true, I can’t say I minded.
From Elio’s encouraging father, to Marzia, his supposed girlfriend, the film’s characters are incredibly gentle and ultimately accepting of Elio’s journey. Each relationship, be it familial, friendly, or romantic, is so carefully crafted that you find yourself equally as invested in the father’s bittersweet support, and Marzia’s innocent hopefulness as you do the consuming passion between Elio and Oliver. And while Elio and Oliver’s relationship is sexual, it’s not necessarily sexy. Their love scenes and even daily interactions are awkward and cautious in a refreshing and endearing way that speaks to Elio’s age and character.
The authenticity of Elio and Oliver’s relationship is due in large part to the film’s screenplay, which incorporates key moments from the book (including the famous, “call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine” line) and gives additional access to Oliver’s character that you won’t find in the original novel. But, the relationship would go nowhere without the sense of time and place established through the setting itself (and Armie Hammer’s wardrobe). As the men romp, bike, and swim through forests, fields, and streams, it seems there’s no better place to fall in love than rural Italy. The film’s saturated colors, delicate lighting, and lush Italian scenery leave you yearning for summer and a romance of your own.
Any commentary on the film would be incomplete without acknowledgement of the impeccable soundtrack. The film’s mix of classical compositions, Italian ‘80s pop hits, and original pieces by Sufjan Stevens is reason enough to watch this film. Stevens wrote two original tracks for the movie, one of which, “Mystery of Love,” is up for “Best Original Song” at this year’s Academy Awards. And that’s not the only potential win for Call Me By Your Name; the film is also nominated for “Best Picture,” “Best Adapted Screenplay,” and newcomer Timothée Chalamet is nominated for “Best Actor” for his portrayal of Elio.
With the Oscar’s quickly approaching, it’s difficult to know where to start in terms of what films to see and what hype to listen to, but I can guarantee the praise surrounding Call Me By Your Name is to be believed. Simply put, it’s beautiful.