Disclaimer: this article will feature spoilers.
(You can find the trailer for the film below and quotes are taken directly from ‘Call Me By Your Name’ by André Aciman)
“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer when we start with someone new.”
Never before have I sat in a cinema to watch a film and seen so many people completely captivated by the story unfolding before their eyes.
From the beginning credits to the climax, ‘Call Me By Your Name,’ does everything and more to portray a real and subsequently heartbreaking relationship between two American-Jewish males in two different points in their lives.
“I will have been a terrible father if, one day, you’d want to speak to me and felt the door was shut, or not sufficiently open.”
Based on the 2007 novel of the same name, the film explores the summer relationship of Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) – who lives in the Italian countryside with his parents – and Oliver (Armie Hammer) – a grad student living in America who begins a summer internship with Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor in archaeology.
Elio is developed through the film and the book as a seventeen-year-old who is still learning more about his sexuality. He does more than once sleep with Marzia (a girl who lives nearby) but it is clear that in his time with Oliver he experiences all the feelings that come with love.
“And if I should hear that you died, my life as I know it, the me who is speaking with you know, will cease to exist.”
The film starts with Oliver’s arrival at the Perlman’s in the picturesque Italian countryside and Elio’s primary attitudes towards Oliver are more negative than expected because he can sense that their personalities are different.
Soon, this opinion changes through swimming together, taking long walks and Elio going on archaeological trips with his father and Oliver. Their romantic and sexual relationship soon starts developing in screen including the famous peach scene which isn’t as explicit as the book. (if you want more info on this scene, you can read it as part of the plot for the book here – warning explicit and obvious spoilers)
“But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”
Even without the constant reminders that Oliver’s return to America is imminent, the couple has another obstacle in their way – the film is set in the 1980s when you and I both know the attitudes towards LGBT+ wasn’t as accepting as it is in the present day. This is relatively underplayed in the film but there is a reference to it when Oliver desires to kiss Elio in the street as he would with a woman but cannot now. They do keep their relationship secret from everyone including Elio’s parents.
The chemistry produced by Hammer and Chalamet almost makes you forget that it is a film. At times I would be watching and smiling and truly be believing that there was an Elio and Oliver out there and I was an outsider observing (100% not creepily but you get my point).
“God we wasted so many days. Why didn’t you give me a sign?”
It would have been wonderful if this film was just continuous scenes of just Elio and Oliver but it really wasn’t. In fact, my favorite part of the movie and the point at which my heart was bursting and breaking the most was near the end when Elio’s father talks to Elio about his relationship with Oliver without making any assumptions or making Elio feel uncomfortable. He does say, however, that he is envious of the bond they had.
The thing I loved most about this movie was the fact that it was interested in the transcendent story of first love and the heartache that may come with it – which is why Chalamet’s portrayal of Elio is so damn important and extremely well executed.
I don’t think anyone who watched the film or even read the book expected Oliver and Elio be together forever. It was clear that Oliver’s return to the States would be the end of their relationship but they could experience love in the little time they had.
“I suddenly realised that we were on borrowed time, that time is always borrowed.”
The climax of the movie is set several months after Oliver’s departure where he calls Elio to tell him that he is engaged to be married. This, as expected, breaks Elio’s heart again and the ending credits (again a beautiful detail which had me transfixed) are simply him sat in front of a fireplace crying once again. This is the first time I have sat completely through film credits and honestly, I felt the heartbreak he felt.
There has already been the talk of the film being a frontrunner for the Oscars as it has already been nominated (as of 22nd December 2017) for 118 awards included Best Picture, Best Actor for Chalamet and Best Supporting Actor for both Hammer and Stuhlberg. I can only hope that it receives and wins such nominations at the prestigious Oscars at the March 2nd Ceremony next year.
Buy the book here
Watch the trailer for the film below (credits to Sony Pictures):