Each Friday, I will be exploring (and dissecting) one of my favorite films of all time. I’ll be delving into spoilers for each film, as I elaborate on why they remain so vital. This week, I decided to cover 2018’s poetic, visually stunning drama, Call Me By Your Name.
This gay romance/drama film had so much buzz and was showered with positivity fresh from many various film festivals, including Sundance. At the New York Film Festival, CMBYN earned a major honor: a full ten minutes of sustained standing ovation, the longest in the 55-year history of the fest. I make it a point to seek out LGBT films with or without buzz behind them. The second the film was booked at our local Alamo Drafthouse, it was a no-brianer to reserve seats and to drag my now husband along for the ride. Over a lush 2 hour 12 minute runtime, we were transported to 1980’s Italy. I was instantly absorbed into this part coming-of-age, part aching romance and part sharp comedy film. Call Me By Your Name was a life-changing and transformative experience that I was able to share with my husband. By the end, we both had tears streaming down our faces. The strength and relatability of the characters has an unparalleled vitality to it. An authenticity is here that feels so honest and tender.
A poignant, beautiful coming-of-age story with two truly incredible performances courtesy of Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name was rightfully nominated for 4 Academy Awards. Though it would go on to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, the film’s strength falls to these two main actors. Hammer was snubbed for the role, and Chalamet did not win despite turning in a career-changing dramatic performance as Elio. The chemistry these two actors have is unrivaled, playing off every quirk and nuance in the most believable ways. The literal title plays a major role in connecting to these characters. This may not be the best love story ever made, but it certainly feels the most real. The longing to be touched, the first kiss, the playful will-they-or-won’t-they… a movie romance that feels this true, this contained and this effective is very rare, if impossible to find. Coupled with the gorgeous scenery of Italy, the love between these two feels special in a way that is almost indescribable.
Scenes that seared themselves into my brain forever are too numerous to name. Elio playing around with a peach, Elio’s father giving sage life advice, the first kiss between Olvier and Elio, and Oliver dancing to The Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way”. None are as powerful or as heartbreaking as the film’s final frames.
The ending rips your heart out and stomps on it, but it does what it sets out to do. It shows us what it feels like to have experienced your first love, and how much it hurts when it ends. The closeup of Timothée’s Elio crying, full of emotion, over the end credits is one of the most haunting images in all of cinema. I want a sequel just to see what happens next; I’d love to see if these two ever reconnect. I don’t need one, as I feel a success on this level would be very hard to replicate. If the script is right, I’d love to see a return to this world and these characters. A book sequel, Find Me, already exists, and Chalamet’s fanbase has only grown exponentially in the time since.
In the time since our theater experience, I snagged the movie on Blu-Ray (of course). I devoured almost every interview between the two leads with gleeful abandon. I listened to the soulful audiobook read by Armie Hammer himself, and I purchased both of Andre Aciman’s novels in this series. I followed Timothée Chalamet through every project he has done since (and I even got lucky enough to meet him when he promoted Beautiful Boy back in 2018). To say I was taken with a case of CMBYN fever would be a massive understatement. Every time I revisit the film, I’m swept away in its beauty and scale. Even if we never get the proposed sequel, Call Me By Your Name stands as one of the greatest coming-of-age films of the 2010’s.