“Call Me By Your Name” is a love story. The premise may seem as simple as a summer romance, shared as quickly as one might expect it to in one’s youth. That there is a uniqueness in the experience of watching this film is a point I cannot stress enough.
The work is beautifully filmed. Northern Italy is presented in all of its glory, and for lack of better explanation, you can feel the season through the screen. The warmth of summer, the blinding sunlight, the refuge of a pool– all of it becomes tangible. The actors’ performances aside, the visual elements of the film are wholly transportive.
The story is, more importantly, beautifully told. I watched the film after having read the book, and it is absolutely worth the read, but this is one of the rare circumstances under which neither adaptation outshines the other. Though the adaptations end at different times in the characters’ lives, and the time spent understanding the characters is much longer in the pages of Aciman’s novel than in the two-hour screen time, Elio and Oliver’s dynamic isn’t at all lost in translation.
Elio and Oliver are a pair that, I think, stay with the viewer. They are undoubtedly hailed for being one of the growing number of queer romances to take the screen this year, and even more gratifyingly, for being a queer romance that is permitted. But their love, separate from identity and person, is its own entity. It flourishes unadulterated, and though it is more explicitly relayed in the book, it is a love made unique by how all-encompassing it becomes. The pair has no secrets, nothing to hide. Elio is an extension of Oliver, and Oliver an extension of Elio. The title "Call Me By Your Name" brings the sentiment of loving someone as though they were a part of yourself to love.
The film lingers and leaves you drained after having taken you on the journey of their love so quickly. Though the story may not be wholly relatable, the joys of biking in the wind and the heartbreaks of saying goodbye are all-too-familiar and all-too-nostalgic. The performances across the cast, the music that seems so carefully tailored to their experiences, and the world that is crafted to frame them is uniquely poignant.
"Call Me By Your Name" is more felt than it is watched. Like Elio and Oliver do to each other, it becomes a part of you.