I saw Call Me By Your Name in a near empty theatre with a package of peanut M&M's and absolutely no understanding of how this movie would change my life. The lights came up and I sat there, alone, with tears in my eyes, completely overwhelmed by my loss of words. The voices of Elio and Oliver echoed in my mind. "Elio, Elio, Elio, Oliver, Oliver, Oliver," I’d catch myself whispering days after leaving my imprint on the polyester seat.
I grew obsessed with the entirety of this film. For me, it was so much more than a movie; it was a feeling. But isn't that why we love to watch movies—for the feelings that without warning, engulf our bodies, hearts, and minds?
"Fear not. It will come. At least I hope it does. And when you least expect it. Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spots."
I was pleased to learn the movie was based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman. I have never been much of a book worm, but knew I had to get my hands on a copy if I wanted to continue experiencing this feeling. I couldn’t get myself to put it down, and when I did, it was because I didn't want it to end. I was able to completely lose myself in their story.
Colors of red, yellow, and green were clouding my every thought. It was like I too had spent the summer under the Italian sun, basking by heaven, biking to Monet’s Berm, and falling asleep to the sound of Bach, Busoni, and Liszt effortlessly playing the piano.
"I knew exactly what phrase in the piece must have stirred him the first time, and each time I played it, I was sending it to him as a little gift, because it was really dedicated to him, as a token of something very beautiful in me that would take no genius to figure out that urged me to throw in an extended cadenza. Just for him."
The novel breathes life into its readers. There is a palpable sense of innocence that beats like a heart throughout the book. Each embrace, verbal exchange, and flirtatious glance is cultivated with lust and honest attraction.
Whether you’re watching the movie or reading the novel, each sight, sound, word and texture will tickle your every sense. The cracking of a soft-boiled egg, the flowing of Oliver’s billowy blue shirt, as well as the carnal pleasure of Elio and Oliver’s summer fling seem to resonate deep inside us.
While the scenes are graphic, they are neutralized with a tone so tender they feel heartwarming rather than salacious. Their love affair solely serves as a celebration of love in its purest form. Its beauty has proven unmatched by anything audiences have encountered.
"I loved the boldness that was pushing me forward; it aroused me, because it was born of arousal itself." -Elio
Elio and Oliver share something I only wish to experience in my lifetime. A love that knows no boundaries and rooted in mutual respect and admiration.
It was a strange thing, but I felt Elio’s heartbreak like it was my own.
I’d have goosebumps covering my legs each time Oliver coyly muttered the word “later”. My heart raced waiting for midnight to come and my body yearned for another private encounter with Oliver at heaven.
No book or movie has ever allowed me completely into its world. Maybe because of its relatability, or perhaps its ability to most eloquently narrate my every desire and dream of falling in love, but the experience I had with both the film and novel were transformative.
"Love, which exempts no one who's loved from loving..."
Each moment shared between the two characters was coated with meaningfulness and intimacy we have all experienced, or hope to experience. It brings you back to the moments you shared with your first crush, confusion faced in your first relationship, and the gut wrenching feeling of your first heartbreak.
Its most intriguing element of all is possibly that this ‘gay romance’ isn’t about sexual orientation at all. Rather, two humans who share a longing to love one another more recklessly and intimately than they’ll ever experience again. Call Me By Your Name is universally appealing to an array of audiences, which cannot be said about most first gay love stories.
My experience will be different from the next person's, but I can confidently guarantee its impact will be evident within each person that chooses to lose themselves in Elio and Oliver’s world.
"Call me by your name and I'll call you by mine..." -Oliver