From the opening sequence, a viewer can see much of the careful craftsmanship and artistry that is present throughout the film which that shapes much of the film's meaning with aesthetic beauty without disregarding its themes and ideas surrounding sexual awakening, repressive desire and the often melancholic and intense nature of first love. Through the use of tight frames, low angle shots and romanticised Italian settings Guadagnino creates an intimate portrayal of an honest, blossoming homosexual relationship. This is supported by a poetic script by James Ivory, whose own contributions to film are especially worth noting with his outstanding adaptation of The Remains of the Day displaying his aptitude for fully realising the unfortunate realities of love and intimacy. To witness the work of these two in a cinematic context makes all the more clearer the valuable and provocative experience they have created—whilst transcending tropes and providing an open account of LGBT experiences that furthers ever developing Queer Cinema Movement with a focus on their romance rather than sexuality, thus normalising their relationship without contradicting their queer identity.
With his overtly casual mannerisms and attitude Armie Hammer’s Oliver immediately contrasts with the already established serene, academic Italian Perlman family—particularly Timothée Chalamet’s Elio who makes his feigned distain towards Oliver clear and his true feelings palpable. The relationship between the two is gradually teased as the two feign indifference towards the other with a tone reflects the laidback summer mood of the film’s Italian countryside with Elio’s feelings of longing palpable within the viewer. The pair subtly grows close in nuanced manner as the feelings developing within them come with a sense of nervousness and some jealousy. This builds to a memorable dance sequence to The Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” as the enigmatic Oliver takes full centre of the camera’s frame with another girl and hypnotises the viewer with the voyeuristic camera angles as we as viewers are positioned as the out of eye-match Elio- who attempts to retaliate against this with a brief sexual encounter with a local girl Marzia. It’s at this point in the narrative that the film shifts into an open-hearted romance to Sufjan Stevens’ blissful and somewhat melancholic “Mystery of Love” as the couple now embrace their feelings for one and another. This is a courtship that is both truthful and refreshing and shows why films such as this drive my passion for the industry as a whole with new directions still possible to explore in terms of narrative and themes as influences taken from romantic, dialogue-driven films such as Linklater’s Before Trilogy, Todd Haynes’ Carol and Andrew Haigh’s Weekend are reshaped into a subversive, emotional experience as it shifts into the second half of the narrative.
The second half of the film is shaped with such sensitivity and humanity as the couple become more intimate upon the approaching departure of Oliver. Guadagnino basks in the pair’s intimacy with naturalistic diegetic sound only partly audible as the interactions between the two become more fluid and drawn out as their relationship is now fully formed and realised and an almost indescribable scene involving a peach which could have easily been absurd is given a profound, extremely believable context onscreen. Downbeat undertones are shown throughout this period as the two remark on the time they could have spent together but even with the approaching departure Oliver Guadagnino is careful not to let emotions linger as the narrative focuses upon the profound nature of what Oliver and Elio have shared rather making a tragedy of the couple’s relationship. Michael Stuhlbarg’s monologue on the diminishment of love through loss and heartbreak in the closing sequence of the film (who portrays Elio’s father) is so universal and touching that the film itself becomes almost timeless on first viewing and makes me fully appreciative of film as a form of expression.
In conclusion, the film Call Me By Your Name shows the importance of film in reshaping audience’s views of minority groups by expressing universal themes in a specific context that can touch any viewer due to the transferable experiences being displayed as film makers take new approaches to themes and ideas. This makes me find the form exhilarating due to the unpredictable directions being taken and the emotional involvement being produced which is why I believe it is worthy of anyone’s time.