“Remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. Before you know it, your heart is worn out. And as for your body, there comes a point where no one looks at it. Much less wants to come near it.”
Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Do you remember what it felt like? Maybe your first crush? Your life changes when you meet that person, or you have certain feelings for the very first time in your life. It’s a special moment in every person’s life because well love is suppose to make you fell something, it’s suppose to make you feel complete. Call Me By Your Name is just that, a love story. Just so happens it has to be a gay love story, which occurs in the summer of 1983 in a villa in Italy. Honestly who wouldn’t want to fall in love in such a place? Italy is such a beautiful country, filled with beautiful people and in the summer of 1983 it saw a romance form like no other.
Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is a 17 year old boy who in the summer lives in a villa in Italy with his parents Mr. Perlmen (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Annella (Amira Casar). His father, an archaeologist who studies sculptures, brings in a grad student every summer to help him with his work. Elio rarely thinks anything of these students, as they come and go every year, and he never seems to be able to form any sort of bond or friendship with them. When Oliver (Armie Hammer) arrives, well everything changes. Hammer, has a statuesque stature himself. From the very get-go you notice the size difference between Oliver and Elio. The Perlman’s are as the world would put it today “boujee,” they are fluent in multiple languages, well read and educated and appear to have an incredible amount of wealth. When Oliver first arrives, Eilo gets a sense of entitlement and cockiness, and is immediately fascinated by him. He gives off an “American” vibe, for instance, whenever he leaves, he declares “Later!” Elio is thrown off by his behaviour, but the two form a bond right away.
Most days for Elio are spent riding his bike, reading pool side in his swim trunks and flirting with the local girls. Oliver joins in with all of these activities, and when they start to bond and begin a friendship, Elio doesn’t know how to react. He isn’t sure if this is a real friendship or if Oliver is just being nice and Elio is merely the professors kid. Elio is a 17 year old kid, he’s going through what any 17 year old goes through. An insane rush of emotions and hormones. Elio is so intwined with Oliver, he cares so much about how he views him and what he thinks of him. The movie doesn’t give us any back story to Elio’s character, so we don’t know if he has had feelings like this before, but once Oliver arrives, it awakens something in him, he begins to finally see the light.
Call Me By Your Name isn’t so much about “doing it,” but rather wanting to “do it.” It’s about discovering your true sexual orientation and being comfortable in your own skin. For the most part, our two leads are wearing no shirts and just swim trunks, it’s summer, it’s Italy and it kind of sets the stage for some early physical contact, when Oliver offers to help Elio with his injured shoulder. The word “gay” is uttered once throughout the whole movie, which you might find strange in a movie about a gay romance. The one time it is said isn’t even directed at either one of our leads but rather a person in passing. The conversations about that subject between Elio and Oliver often happen off screen and I found this quite fascinating. This all happens naturally because director Luca Guadagnino allows it to, he sets the stage early on, and we watch as this progresses. Remember Oliver is only here for the summer, so this ends up being a painful summer romance, and when they finally figure out what they share together it is simply too late. The problem lies within Elio where he at one point asks Oliver if he is sick. Oliver simply replies “I wish everyone was as sick as you.” You almost wish these two would have had more time together, because they ultimately wish the same thing.
From the very start you knew these two would get along, Elio and his self confidence and intelligence meshed well with Oliver’s sometimes arrogance and often at times bro-ish behaviour. They are attractive to each others intelligence first, then it becomes more physical. They seem perfect for one another, but all good things must come to an end, and when the summer ends, so does this romance. It’s a coming of age kind of summer for Elio as cliche as that sounds. By the end of the summer, he is now who he was meant to be, and he is heartbroken.
The two leads give inspiring performances, and have incredible chemistry. It’s a testament to both actors. And they seemed to form a great bond in real life as well. Timothée has such a bright future in acting and seeing this side of Armie Hammer made me respect him even more as an actor.
This is 1983, the world was a different place and this kind of relationship wouldn’t have been accepted. So when Oliver arrives to work for Elio’s father, the two become close. He becomes part of the family. They have an incredible close knit family, that is very tight. So as this is going on, you are unaware of how the parents are viewing this and if they know what is even going on. Throughout the movie, glances are shared between the Perlman’s, that gives you the idea that they know something is going on. Nothing is ever said between the pair or to their son. They are being so supportive of their son, and they don’t even have to say a word. They are generous people, the kind of parents you want to grow up with. As one would put it, they are reading between the lines of this friendship forming before their eyes. They notice the changes in their son. They are allowing their son to become something, that as it’s put in the movie, most parents would not allow to happen. Allowing their son to grow into the person he is meant to become is your job as a parent. You know the saying – you don’t know what you got till it’s gone? That’s pretty much what Call Me By Your Name is about. Oliver and Elio sit outside well into the night and talk about how much wasted time they had this summer. That most things in life come and go so quickly that before you realize it, that thing you are experiencing is already a memory. Some of the greatest things in life are ephemeral, and for Elio and Oliver, their love is the greatest example.
The movie ends with a beautifully haunting speech by Michael Stulhbarg when he sits in his office with Elio and tells him about love. About what he experienced with Oliver is the type of love that people will search for their entire lives. That he wishes he found what they had this past summer. He envies what he had with Oliver, and that most parents wish and pray their son would land on his feet – he’s no such parent. It touches on everything you just felt watching Call Me By Your Name, all the themes and messages the film was trying to convey. “We rip out so much of ourselves, to be cured of things faster. That we are bankrupt by the age of 30, and have less to offer each time we start with someone new.” This final interaction between father and son is so powerful and emotional, that I feel like it’s a scene that will almost live on forever. When you are unsure about something in life, maybe love, go watch that scene and be reminded it’s okay to be different and that love is such a powerful thing. Don’t let the world change who you are, and be who you are meant to be. I am shocked Stulhbarg wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for this performance. The more I sit with this movie, the more I think I enjoyed it.
I will also never look at a peach the same way again.
Check ya later
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Call Me By Your Name = 84/100