“Is it better to speak or die?”
Disclaimer: the article contains spoilers
Never before have I sat down to watch a movie and been so completely captivated by the story unfolding before my eyes. “Call Me By Your Name”, directed by Luca Guadagnino, managed to take me on a beautiful trip to Italy, then break my heart into a million pieces. The movie truly unfolds like a beautiful dream. Set in an idyllic small town in northern Italy, where all there is to do is read, play piano and enjoy the gentle breezes and sunny skies, the story tracks down the growing relationship between Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a graduate student living in America who gets a summer internship working with Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlberg), an esteemed professor.
“And if I should hear that you died, my life as I know it, the me who is speaking with you know, will cease to exist.”
Timothée Chalamet succeeds in beautifully portraying Elio’s marvelously subdued expressions of yearning and suffering, putting on film the ache of first love. Armie Hammer, playing the mysterious and charming summer guest, shakes up the Italian household with his insanely magnetic looks and intellect. The chemistry between the two of them almost makes us forget that it is a film. Throughout the movie there are prolonged scenes of intimacy, yet, due to the director’s deep comprehension of love, we can almost feel the lust and longing that transpire between Elio and Oliver.
“We had the stars, you and I. And this is given once only.”
Even without the constant reminder of homophobia, we are still reminded that the film is set in the 1980s, when Oliver, wanting to kiss Elio in the street, has to restrain himself, because the general attitude toward LGBT+ relationships was negative.
I don’t think that anyone who watched the “Call Me By Your Name” delved into it believing it was a “and they lived happily ever after” kind of movie. However, one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking scenes takes place after Elio and Oliver’s separation. Elio’s dad, who caught on the special and rare relationship that his son and Oliver had, gives a powerful speech, offering Elio his support and advises him to hold on to the feelings that have been unleashed within him.
“In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!”
The climax of this movie is set several months after Oliver’s departure when he calls to say he is engaged. This, as expected, breaks Elio’s heart, and by the time Oliver says he remembers everything, I completely lost it. The ending credits show Elio sitting in front of the fireplace with tears trickling down his face, with “Visions of Gideon” playing in the background, which fills you with an aching nostalgia that lingers.
The stunning movie was nominated for four Oscars: Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as Best Actor for its young lead, Timothée Chalamet, and Best Original Song for Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens, who wrote three songs for the film.
Watch the trailer here.
Buy the book by Andre Aciman here.
Featured image via hollywoodreporter.com.