Call Me By Your Name is a 2017 romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino. The film stars Thimothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as Elio Perlman and Oliver respectively. The story is based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman and set in northern Italy in 1983. It chronicles the romantic relationship between Elio, a 17-year-old boy and his father’s assistant, Oliver. Elio lives in the Italian countryside with his parents and meets Oliver who lives with his family over the summer of 1983. Over time, Elio and Oliver spend a lot of time together discussing mutual interests and later develop romantic feelings.
Call Me By Your Name is a story of first love that explores the dynamic between Elio and Oliver which grows into a romantic relationship. Same-sex relationships were far more taboo back in the 80s. Overall the film has a very sensual feel that perfectly captures the 80s nostalgia. The very carefully selected score supports this atmosphere. Guadagnino personally selected the music and wanted to find an emotional, not too heavy feeling. The director wanted the music to connect to Elio, who is a young pianist who likes to adapt pieces, in order to get closer to his father’s assistant Oliver. The splendid cinematography and the score created the summery feeling that the movie embodies all throughout. The film’s costumes and production design really nail the look of the 80s.
Chalamet really brings the character of Elio to life. Elio is someone who experiences a lot of things for the first time and often cannot describe these. Chamalet’s face and body language made his character very relatable and easy to understand. The rare close-ups of Elio show a lot of emotion and are almost mesmerizing. The chemistry between Chalamet and Hammer is strong and truly show the emotions between the characters. The couple’s physical chemistry adds to the overall sensual feel of the movie.
Even though the atmosphere is nearly perfect in the movie, the representation of the physical compatibility is not. The romantic relationship between the two main characters does not include any explicit love scenes and remains very discreet. In the context of today’s perspective on same-sex relationships, it is something that was rather odd to leave out of an otherwise remarkable movie. Guadagnino revealed in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that ‘in order for queer stories to be marketable, they must be presented in a way that will not alienate straight audiences.’ The tone and the direction of the movie were about the emotional journey of first love, rather than a queer narrative, he explained. This is to help the film gain a wider audience beyond the LGBTQ community, but it feels a bit too restrained in later parts of the movie.
Call Me By Your Name is a nearly perfect romantic drama film and captures the emotions of the two main characters very well. However, in order to have done the story justice, the film should have presented a more honest and unfiltered narrative that did not limit itself to comforting and appeasing mainstream audiences.