Call Me By Your Name is in its essence a tragic love story.
Set in the summer of 1983 in Northern Italy (1987 in the book) we follow Elio, an American-Italian on his journey to find true love as he overcomes his fears of acknowledging his desires and falls head over heels in love with Oliver – a charming American who has come to live with them for the summer as a part of Elio’s fathers’ summer intern program.
Amidst the sunlit splendour of their surroundings a torrid love affair ensues that will leave each of them adrift and unsure about themselves…
“He came. He left. Nothing else had changed. I had not changed. The world hadn’t changed. Yet nothing would be the same.”
I first saw the movie in early January 2018 after watching several rave reviews. However, I have to admit that most of my fascination was primarily due to the breathtaking soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens that was incorporated in the trailer.
What started off as mere curiosity soon developed into infatuation.
The movie was rich and sumptuous, not only in its plot but also in the way it was shot. Every frame was art incarnate. Even the well crafted plot couldn’t distract me from the beauty of the locations and the serendipity of the surrounding scenery.
It was as if I was the only witness to what was being portrayed.
That I alone, was capable of felling the pain and curiosity of the protagonists as they traversed unknown territories.
That feeling, of being cutoff from the world and being isolated is what makes me love this movie so much.The intimacy doesn’t feel forced and for a moment you forget that these are actors playing a part. So immersed are you in their story that you cry with them in their private agonies and rejoice in their ultimate reunion.
This is one of the few movies that I consider timeless, and dare I say, a classic.
My only qualm is that they could’ve made more of an effort to make sure everyone watching understood that it is set in the early 80’s (the AIDS crisis and illegality of being homosexual was very real) thus, the reason for OIiver’s reluctance and hesitance that some people can’t seem to grasp…
Thus, it came as no surprise when it got nominated for the Oscars this year. Apart from Lady Bird this was the only other movie I watched from the nominations (and I’m so glad it won Best Writing Adapted Screenplay!).
After watching the movie I ordered a copy of the book in March in preparation for the Oscars.
I tore through the pages to find out what had happened to the duo’s doomed love after Elio’s dramatic ( + iconic ) end credits scene in the movie.
Was the ending of the book realistic- Yes.
Was it satisfying- No.
I still wanted closure and since the ending is open for interpretation I was left unsatisfied and unmoored.
I was pleased however, by the added insight the book offers in regards to the plot and characterisation and the fact that most of the movie stays true to the book – especially the speech Elio’s father, Mr. Perlman (Michael Stuhlbarg) gives near the end, displaying unconditional love, understanding and support for his son.
Another aspect I loved reading about was the “San Clemente Syndrome” – aptly explained in a Reddit thread :
“…the San Clemente Syndrome was a way that Aciman portrayed that every human, me and you included, are similar to the Basilica of San Clemente. Our love and past history is built upon previous layers that we never got rid of, or just built upon. These multiple layers make everyone of us who we are, and give us complete and total uniqueness. This relates to the characters so much because this whole chapter they spent in Rome was a celebration of their love. This was them building their church inside themselves, to always have there and never forget. After they eventually completely break up, they never broke down that church, a.k.a. their love for one another. They still grew around it, they even probably built a very strong basilica of love for someone else around it. But the second they saw each other, they had to give it a second to dig deep within themselves and find the same love church that they built together, that has always stayed there. Which they will always remember…”
Sadly, I soon realised that they’d cut Vimini’s character from the movie – although not crucial to the plot, her character was important in discovering the dimensions and dynamics of Elio and Oilver’s relationship as it progressed and I would’ve loved to see that being portrayed in the movie as well.
In conclusion, even though the book offers added details about the future of our beloved protagonists I still vastly prefer the Movie. Not only is the cast phenomenal but I think the story benefits from being told visually (not to mention the red herrings thrown in for good measure make it all the more interesting!).
I haven’t had time for the audiobook yet but I assume it’s pretty confusing, considering Armie Hammer (Oliver) narrates Elio’s perspective…
Finally, I can’t wait for the upcoming sequel in 2019 and I hope it is equally as successful as the first!