Call Me by Your Name: Youth, Beauty, and Love


 

We all know what it feels like to be in love. To feel the butterflies burst in your belly when that one person is around us. It is a great feeling to fall in love but young love, new love, love of expression and of self... those are the feelings we chase for the rest of our lives. And its movies like Call Me By Your Name that brings those memories back... and make us reminisce...

From Imdb.com, Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is right at home in the beautiful Italian scenery of Call Me by Your Name.


Call Me by Your Name Trailer- https://www.imdb.com/video/vi983545881?playlistId=tt5726616&ref_=tt_ov_vi


Another Friday, that means another edition of #FilmFriday. Today we are going to talk about the beloved 2017 movie (and my personal favorite film of that year) Call Me by Your Name. A much more dramatic and mature pick for this week, Call Me by Your Name made a huge splash in the film community upon its release. It’s a story about identity, youth, love, aging, and ultimately growth. It’s the kind of film that changes every time you sit down to watch it. It grows and changes with the viewer. I always get something profound from this film every time I see it. It’s crisp and beautiful, like the lovely Italian Summer that surrounds the characters.


Setting is extremely important in the film (very important in all of Guadagnino’s films actually). It influences plot and has an undeniable effect on the characters; “The true generator of the movies I try to make is Jean Renoir, and A Day in the Country is really the alpha and omega of Call Me by Your Name. Because Call Me by Your Name is about the definition of knowledge, how the bonds within a family have the capacity to create an invisible ribbon that unifies people and makes them become, and grow” (Criterion.com, David Hudson, Oct 3, 2017, On Film/The Daily, https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/4999-nyff-2017-guadagnino-s-call-me-by-your-name).


The film’s cinematography looks very much like a Jean Renoir painting, sans French country-side. The idyllic look in no way strangles the narrative, or exists to serve as any kind of harsh commentary. It simply is beautiful, warm, free in many ways too. The freedom lies in the isolation of nature, when Elio and Oliver are swimming alone, or laying around in the grass, away from prying eyes. David Simms from The Atlantic says it best; “This isn’t just a luxurious vacation movie, but it’s still crammed to the gills with gorgeous shots of the Italian countryside and Elio’s family home. This isn’t just an erotic drama, and yet the love scenes are all choreographed with care. And most importantly, this isn’t just a coming-of-age tale, but the ardor Elio and Oliver have for each other feels utterly vital, as if every touch will be seared into their memories” (TheAtlantic.com, David Simms, Nov, 29 2017, The Sumptuous Love Story of Call Me by Your Name, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/11/call-me-by-your-name-review/546872/).


The budding romance between Elio and Oliver stands front and center of the narrative.


“What is perhaps so incredible is the concept of leisure, a cousin to pleasure, pure gorgeous indolence and sexiness for six whole weeks. […] At any one time, nothing is happening, and everything is happening. Elio and Oliver will catch each other’s eye in their adjoining bedrooms or downstairs in the hall; they will casually notice each other changing into swimming costumes. Each of these intensely realized, superbly controlled and weighted moments is as gripping as a thriller. Hammer’s Oliver is worldlier than Elio, but not a roué or a cynic; in an odd way, Elio is more cosmopolitan than Oliver” (The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw, Oct 26 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/26/call-me-by-your-name-review-luca-guadagnino-armie-hammer).


It is very much a film of pleasure, and it’s in these long summer days of leisure that the mind grows, Elio’s mind expands and he falls deeply in love for, what we could imagine, is the first time.

From Imdb.com, Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Elio fall quickly into a summer passion, but difficult lessons lie ahead.







For those who have followed Luca Guadagnino’s career, an emerging masterpiece might be a huge surprise. The director did make I Am Love (2010), A Bigger Splash (2015), and more recently the re-make of Suspiria (2018).


All emotionally and visually gorgeous and profound creations. In an interview with Vulture he said, “I’m happy. I like transformative things. I welcome transformation in my life and I like transformation in other people’s lives. I like to be the agent of it. I simplified my approach. I have more trust in the power of the language of cinema without [additional] style. And to understand that I am capable of loving multiple times with multiple people, but also to be faithful in every sense of the word to the love of my life. Also, I aged making this movie” (Vulture.com, Interview, Kyle Buchanan, Nov 17 2017, https://www.vulture.com/2017/11/director-luca-guadagnino-talks-call-me-by-your-name-sequels.html).


Guadagnino says he aged during the creation of this movie, I think we age too as viewers when we see it. We experience our own intense emotions as Elio experiences them.


From Imdb.com, A family dinner. Passions bubble silently underneath.


When I think of Call Me by Your Name, for some reason I don’t immediately think of its sex appeal or the beautiful scenery, I think of that scene towards the end between Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg (If you’ve seen the film, you what I’m talking about). Why single out this scene you may ask. Well, not only is it one of more famous scenes from the film, it also encapsulates much of the meaning of the film.


We see Stuhlbarg as a kind of all-seeing observer after this scene. We understand him to have been silently watching his son’s emotional journey over the course of the summer. By simply sitting back and allowing things to play out, he allowed his son to experience this love and heartache that is so critical for personal growth.


He has the advantage of age and experience without the clouded judgment of Oliver. Love and life are short, he explains, without any hint of judgment. Denying oneself of either of these things defeats the purpose of everything. This is one of the many reasons Call Me by Your Name is so beautiful. Every time I watch this scene, and I mean every time, I am moved to tears. This is another thing that’s beautiful about the film, they are not sad tears, they are tears of love and catharsis.


From Imdb.com, Sensuality runs deep in Call Me by Your Name, Elio tries at first to ignore his inevitable feelings.







Writer's Note:

A story about love, beauty, youth, and life, ending with the warm embrace of an understanding father; the kind of movie everyone needs in their lives. I remember seeing this for the first time in a theater in college.


I remember feeling that I was watching something soo important, and my thoughts were constantly being reaffirmed. It is a masterfully done movie; an art film. I don’t recall being soo moved by a film since watching works of other masters of Italian cinema like Fellini or Antonioni.

 

Written by Emily E Laird.

4/18/2020

Further readings available at: https://medium.com/@thefilmjournal


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