‘Call Me By Your Name’: when a film feels more like a memory

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“Call Me By Your Name” (2017) is an incredible testament to the power and necessity of details and tone. … And ultimately, it is proof that great story is not forced, but earned and felt.

“Call Me By Your Name” (2017) is an incredible testament to the power and necessity of details and tone. It proves how artistry and craft are key to having audiences empathize with characters they don’t necessarily relate to, or don’t think they can relate to. It shows the importance of representation in film and how having a few movies about gay men (or any minority for that matter) is not enough. And ultimately, it is proof that great story is not forced, but earned and felt.

I did not just see a lazy summer in Northern Italy on-screen; I was living and breathing and feeling the slow, lackadaisical humid summer in Crema, the kind of summer you take for granted as a kid only to realize as an adult just how lucky you were. I did not watch a teen struggle to figure out his sexuality and why he so desired who he did; I simply fell in love and in desire, too. I experienced the painful pangs of insecurity that the one you adore may not adore you back. The wild journaling of thoughts, of obsessions. The circling of their name and then crossing it out. The tip-toeing around simply admitting how much they mean to you. The sniffing of swim trunks… okay, I’ve never done that, but I certainly have smelled a few sweatshirts in my day. I obsessed over this film the way Elio (Timothée Chalamet) obsesses over Oliver (Armie Hammer). I felt like I was living in this movie and I didn’t want to go home.

I obsessed over this film the way Elio (Timothée Chalamet) obsesses over Oliver (Armie Hammer). I felt like I was living in this movie and I didn’t want to go home.

And just when I thought I had entered a wonderful Eden on Earth in the form of a vintage estate complete with an apricot orchard and loving parents, I had a harsh realization. Though Elio and Oliver have many privileges being two white American men from wealthy backgrounds, they will never be able to pursue even the simplest of human pleasures: dancing with one another in the street or kissing goodbye in public.

These are the moments that broke my heart. Despite all the #WhiteMalePrivilege in the world, I very much have something they couldn’t have at the time: I can dance with my boyfriend without fear. And in a summer romance of our own, we were able to kiss one another goodbye before getting on a plane when it was unknown to either of us whether we’d meet again—a small luxury that Elio doesn’t get to have when Oliver departs on a train back home for good.

I do not love this film; I am in love with this film, so much so that I was sincerely terrified to show it to my own Oliver, my boyfriend, Tom. Thankfully, Tom saw the beauty in the film, too. Some works of art expose such an intimate part of ourselves that the thought of someone we care about disliking it feels like a rejection of a part of ourselves that desperately wants to be seen and cherished.

“Call Me By Your Name” is a film that lingers like a familiar scent. Every time I hear a song from the soundtrack, I’m reminded of my first viewing—full of joy, anguish, longing. Like a teenage memory, it’s something that I enjoy having stuck in my head.

“Call Me By Your Name” is a film that lingers like a familiar scent. Every time I hear a song from the soundtrack, I’m reminded of my first viewing—full of joy, anguish, longing. Like a teenage memory, it’s something that I enjoy having stuck in my head.

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