I’d heard people talking about the 2017 film Call Me By Your Name, obviously, but I didn’t get around to seeing it until, funnily enough, flying home from San Francisco yesterday.
Did it live up to the hype?
OH MY GOD did it.
Well, there was all the usual good-movie stuff: great writing, incredible cinematography, wonderful actors, a dreamy setting. But for me, it came down to two big things:
1. It transported me.
As I said, the movie was beautifully shot in my dream setting: at a villa in Italy, midsummer, and its surrounding countryside. The old architecture, dusty furniture, green trees, stone pools, hot town squares–I could feel it all as if I were there. Add to that the incredible score, a mix of eighties pop (the story takes places in 1983) and classical music, the constant clinking of cocktail glasses, the sun beating down on bare shoulders, and I wanted to step into the movie and live there.
And then there were the characters themselves. Watching this movie, there were moments when my nerve endings felt like they were on fire. I felt like I was in Elio’s skin, seventeen years old, falling in love for the first time. I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel so alive in the middle seat on a plane. But I did. This movie had that ability so many great stories do–to completely transport the viewer out of the here and now and into its story.
2. It perfectly, perfectly captured the thrall and excitement and heartbreak of first love
For me, this was the true triumph of the film. This love just felt so real.
There was an added layer to this story, for sure: it’s a love story between two young men. As a straight woman, I went into it expecting to see a love very different from any I’ve ever experienced personally. I was surprised at how much this wasn’t the case.
The movie is very much from 17-year-old Elio’s point of view, and he’s the one I related to so hard. Elio made me remember what it was like to be a teenager, to be so unsure in your own skin, to look at someone and want them so badly but consider them so unattainable it’s never more than a fantasy. And then, to have that fantasy actually come true… ahhh.
Before you ask, I didn’t find the age difference between the lovers (17 and 24) to be at all creepy. Maybe it’s because I once had a summer fling with an even bigger age gap (I was 19; he was 29) and I look back on it very fondly; maybe it’s because I find black-and-white morality boring; or maybe it’s because there was not a single moment in the story where it felt as though Elio was being pressured or coerced in any way.
This story is, at its heart, about the connection forged between two people. It’s lovely, it’s heartbreaking, it’s transcendent, and all of you with a love of great story must go see it immediately.
Photo by Sergi Brylev on Unsplash