Call Me by Your Name

Call Me by Your Name ★★★★

Because I wanted you to know.

The primary intrigue with Call Me by Your Name is ripeness. A movie hasn't felt so much like a fruit prone to bursting since Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, which used its oversaturated visuals in service of an entirely different variety of explosiveness. Guadagnino's romance then is a tale of the summertime, and defined by all the things that define that season. It's hot, blindingly bright and manages to distort time such that it is both a lazy saunter and an all-too-brief respite from the real world. Six weeks. That's all the time Oliver and Elio know each other in this story, and in that compressed time we see their interactions develop from contentious to flirtatious to outright romance. Ripening. All things in their time.

One of my favorite types of romance stories are the love affairs which are truncated. If you've even stumbled around this profile once you probably know, I gravitate more to tragedies and to break-up stories than I do to the more optimistic variant. But movies like this, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and The Bridges of Madison County take a really sharp approach where they effectively throw an expiration date on an emotion most fiction will tell you is boundless and unconditional. In these stories, feelings may come without limits, but life almost never does. And such confines do a great deal to make the flavors more bitter and more sweet, and they gesture again at that concept of ripeness. A great relationship must be developed, just as it must eventually wither, and the stops at both end are what give the moments in between their purpose, their definition and their flavor. And now I'm thinking about peaches again.

This film is sultry. Guadagnino is incapable of making anything less, and god bless him, here he's doing it in service of the gayest mainstream American movie of my lifetime, or maybe ever. It's a sunsoaked daydream that balances casual listlessness with urgency, and it's driven by characters who feel familiar and well sketched. I'm going to level with you, I won't deep dive the #discourse with this write-up. I will say, if some of those ideas or issues bother you, I encourage you to listen to any gay man speak on his experiences and consider the limitations of your own. Know that when I see this movie, when many see this movie, we see ourselves in Elio. This is a romance that is philosophically romantic, concerned with the ideal moreso than the actual. It's about the dream of a hunky stranger who teaches you more about yourself, and it's wedged inside a story designed to rip that dream off like it's a bandaid. Like putting down a steamy boudoir novel only to realize the bus you're riding is damp and cold, and the rain has been driving on the window from the moment you cracked the cover. Such emotional contrasts define all my favorite fiction, particularly with the stories about relationships. I want it all, plus an acknowledgement of the inherent impossibility.

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