Call Me By Your Name (2017)

“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 each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste!” - Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Being in love is one of the most beautiful feelings there is. It's also maybe one of the most confusing—endlessly trying to find out if that one person likes you too, seeing a whole world of meaning in one touch or word.

Call Me By Your Name captures this feeling so flawlessly that by the end of it, you can’t do much else but fall helplessly in love with the film.

We’re never fully told where the film takes place. It's somewhere during the summer in Northern Italy, but it might as well take place in a fairytale. Over the course of the film, the two men (if by now you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s a love story between two men)  around which the film revolves find a sort of temporary paradise with each other in that small, idyllic Italian village.

Seventeen-year-old Elio (Timotheé Chalamet) spends the summer in his parents' villa Northern Italy. It's an old (but perfectly gorgeous and charming) building with heavy doors, creaky wooden floors, and walls filled to the brim with books. And a garden full of peach trees.

Elio waits there, next to the swimming pool, until the sweltering summer is over.

But his summer becomes a lot more exciting upon the arrival of Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American student who will be a guest of his professor father for six weeks.

Oliver is so ridiculously charismatic and attractive that the whole female population soon swoons over his movie star good looks and falls a little in love with him, and Elio falls with them. The whole summer becomes about Oliver: swimming with Oliver, cycling through the Italian countryside with Oliver, asking himself where Oliver is, what Oliver is doing, Oliver, Oliver, Oliver. But does Oliver like him as much? And if so… what then?

The film has sparked some controversy due to the age difference between the two men: Elio is 17, Oliver 24. In Italy, however, the legal age of consent is 16, so Elio is regarded as an adult in sexual matters. And it should also be noted that the keyword here is consent. Oliver doesn’t make any advances without Elio's consent. Elio is also the first one to make a move. Oliver is more reluctant, at first keeping Elio at a distance until he can’t deny himself anymore.

The difference between the two men is that Elio receives support from his parents in his sexual orientation. It’s a gay love story, yes. But both men are shown to have attraction for the opposite sex, and it isn't a big deal within the film.

Oliver is simply the person Elio falls in love with in that moment. But Oliver’s parents would flat out object to their son being romantically involved with a man.

While this aspect of the film is sad, it doesn’t feel like that while you’re watching. There’s no thread of a doomed gay love story, and there are no obstacles to overcome. During that magical summer in Italy, no one prevents the two from being with each other.

Elio somewhat hides the romance from his parents, but there are plenty of moments that indicate that the two are aware of what their son is up to. His mom even encourages a trip for Elio and Oliver.

The film is about two men falling in love, but it captures the universal essence of loveregardless of gender. It’s just two people falling in love. Though it’s nice to see a “gay film” without any cliches.

Even though the film takes place in an at-the-time very Catholic Italy, the two men both share the Jewish religion.

Elio and his family, the Perlmans, are the only Jews in town. As Elio's mom puts it, they're “Jews of discretion.” Oliver is far more overt in his Judaism, choosing to wear a Star of David necklace around his neck.

The two bond over many things, including their Jewish identity. Under Oliver’s influence, Elio starts wearing his own necklace; at the end of the film, after they’ve shared intimacies, Oliver gives him his as a token of his love.

What’s curious is that many people find the film intensely erotic and sensual, and it is. But it’s not necessarily because it’s so explicitthat's not at all the case. In the film's main intimate moment, when the two make love, the camera adverts its gaze and we don’t see anything. But it feels incredibly intimate. The entire film has been building up to this scene, and it is remarkably beautiful.

Luca Gaudagnino’s direction plays an important part here. He shows the transition of lust to love brilliantly, also understanding that the two feed off of each other; when we really love and want someone, a single touch can become intensely sensual.

Elio seems to find Oliver arrogant and cold at first. Oliver’s all-American confidence clashes with Elio’s more reserved, perhaps more European demeanor. But it’s also what attracts both of them to the other. In this case, opposites really do attract.

They each want to break through to the other, and a flirting game soon commences between the two.

Oliver has a confident exterior, painting him to be incredibly at home in his own skin. But once Elio grows closer to him, a really caring, softer, and and even vulnerable side of him shows.

While watching Timotheé Chalamet, you can’t help but think that this guy is going to be huge soon. He plays Elio as a genuinely realistic seventeen-year-old: seemingly indifferent and even arrogant at times. Chalamet understands the inner conflict and emotional turmoil in being a teenager. You’re incredibly sure of yourself at times, but at others incredibly vulnerable and easily hurt. Chalamet couldn’t have expressed that more authentically. He proves wrong to the age-old adage; boys do cry.

Another elemnent of the film that’s been rightfully praised is its cinematography. As someone that’s spent childhood vacations in Italy, I have to say this film brought back vivid and fond memories of those summers.

Call Me by Your Name captures everything about a lazy summer. You can almost feel the heat of the sun or feel like you’re laying poolside yourself. Everything in the film is gorgeous, from the intense, bright colors and ligthing, to the beautiful vistas of a charming, sleepy Italian town and its surrounding countryside.

There’s so much more that I could say about the film—how beautiful the transition from friendship to love is, how beautiful the music is (especially that which was composed for the film by Sufjan Stevens).

I could discuss how the speech that Elio’s father delivers is one of the most beautiful, most genuinely emotional monologues I’ve ever seen in a film. The film itself is simply impressive, and I would like to see it at least ten more times.

Call Me By Your Name manages to make you feel head-over-heels in love for two hoursin love with Elio, in love with Oliver, in love with what the two have with each other. You’ll want to instantly pack your bags and spend six weeks in Italy.

By Ayla Van Damme


  1. I really loved it too, it’s an amazing film.

  2. Wow my favorite movie!! This is such a good article

  3. It's one of my favorites of the year! And thank you so much!

  4. Ayla, this is so good!! What a very articulate review. I love it so much!