Call Me by Your Name is a compelling story about the romance that blossoms between seventeen-year-old Elio and Oliver, a graduate student from Columbia University.
When Oliver spends a few weeks in Italy during the summer of 1983, he stays at a distinguished professor’s villa. There he meets the professor’s son, Elio.
Neither Elio nor Oliver expected their world to collide so forcefully. Unexpected love and an idyllic few weeks soon follow, leaving neither of them unscathed when summer must come to an end.
GENRES: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
If you’ve neither heard of the book nor the movie yet… Where have you been in the last few months??? Call Me by Your Name has been on everybody’s lips, whether they’re a book or a movie lover.
After diving into both—and loving them both very fiercely—I only have praise for this story. If it can give you any indication, I watched the movie 4 TIMES IN 2 DAYS! Then I listened to the audiobook and dived into the physical copy a few days later. So now, let me tell you why this story took over my life—and compromised my finals—and why you should give in to it as well!
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT FROM THE NOVEL
A sensual, atmospheric and deeply moving story. That’s what you should expect.
This book is written in the first-person, so we get to experience the events of summer 1983 through Elio’s eyes, though he is writing this story years and years later. His summer spent with Oliver has thus come and gone, but Elio recalls every single detail about everything, from the outfit Oliver wore when he first got out of the cab with his suitcase to the multi-course meal they enjoyed one night in Rome.
Elio’s voice is lush, vivid and profoundly honest. Each and every sentence reflects Elio’s observant and sharp mind. Soon, you are lured in deeper and deeper into his words, until you can almost feel the heat of the Italian sun on your skin and the sweetness of ripe apricot juice on your lips.
Elio’s intense and dizzying feelings are betrayed by the interminable sentences and the abundance of commas and analogies. The erratic yet deeply introspective writing gives the impression that Elio pondered a lot on the events of summer 1983 and that when he finally decided to lay all his thoughts down on paper, he couldn’t get the words out fast enough. Like he was experiencing all the memories, the tastes, the smells all over again and didn’t have time to piece his thoughts together.
“ He stared me right in the face, as though he liked my face and wished to study it and to linger on it, then he touched my nether lip with his finger and let it travel left and right and right and left again and again as I lay there, watching him smile in a way that made me fear anything might happen now and there’d be no turning back, that this was his way of asking, and here my chance to say no or to say something and play for time, so that I might still debate the matter with myself, now that it had reached this point— except that I didn’t have any time left, because he brought his lips to my mouth, a warm, conciliatory, I’ll-meet-you-halfway-but-no-further kiss till he realized how famished mine was. ”
Elio holds nothing back. He lays bare all of his thoughts and desires. In fact, the whole book reads like a love letter. Or a memoir. But the personal kind of memoir in which the author has put all their heart and soul, and thus never wants to let anyone lay their curious eyes on it because a stranger reading these words would feel like having their heart torn open and ruthlessly exposed.
We especially get to know Elio within the novel, but both his and Oliver’s characters are very well portrayed. The array of emotions they both experience helps to depict them as complex and authentic characters. While the fact that they’re at different life stages seems to set them apart—Elio’s still a teenager who hasn’t yet Oliver’s life experience—, they are actually quite alike in multiple ways. Both of them are very bright and observant and a little shy and unsure—even though it might not seem like it at first. These similar traits push them away from each other in the first place, but finally pulls them together when they start unveiling the mysteries that are one another.
This is such a beautiful and genuine love story. Nothing is given from the start. Elio and Oliver both experience desire and doubt, infatuation and uncertainty, love and fear. And this is why it feels utterly real. It’s raw, unromanticized and undeniably sincere.
The lushness and candidness of the prose really set this novel apart. Every sentence keeps you on the edge for the next one and soon, desire and tension creep under your skin until you are as consumed by love as Elio. There’s also this vulnerability, this childish innocence about him that is so poignant and moving.
I had never read a book so sensual, innocent and sincere as Call Me by Your Name. I had never read a book that describes first love so accurately along with the disillusionment that often follows it.
This story is powerful and important and I think there’s no better way of experiencing it than through each and every page of the novel.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE MOVIE THAT IS SO GREAT
Well, my friends, this movie is Oscar-worthy, which should be enough on its own to convince you to watch it.
If three nominations (and the Oscar for best adapted screenplay) is not good enough for you, then believe me when I say that I have never watched a movie that captures the spirit of a novel so perfectly. The dialogues, down to almost each and every word, are the exact same lines you can find in the book. Obviously, some scenes were cut out for the sake of ending up with a two-hour movie adaptation, but the major events and the essence are there.
I can hear the skeptics already: Then why should we bother putting up with both?
Because while the book and the movie’s stories are nearly identical, both complement one another and have a great deal to offer.
Like I said earlier, the book is written in the first-person narrative, which works very well for the novel but is obviously impossible to translate into a movie adaptation. I have to say that as much as I enjoyed experiencing the events of summer 1983 through Elio’s eyes in the book, I love the objectivity brought by the screen adaptation.
As much as we got to know Oliver through Elio’s vivid descriptions, it remains that his character is never described objectively. Armie Hammer, who plays Oliver in the movie, therefore did an amazing job of portraying Oliver and filling in the blanks. Armie somewhat respected the essence of Oliver yet added little details to his character that made me like him even more in the movie.
However, that’s Timothée Chalamet, who plays Elio, that completely stole the show in my opinion. Congrats to him for portraying such a complex character so impeccably. He is a downright phenomenal actor. I can’t even believe this was his first major role on screen!
I am certainly not a movie reviewer, so I cannot do an extensive review and throw lots of technical words in your face to make myself look like I know what I’m talking about. In fact, I really don’t. I very rarely watch movies.
What I can tell you, though, is that I did not find a single flaw in this screen adaptation. It was filmed in Italy and the scenery is incredible. The soundtrack fits the story perfectly—I especially love the three songs by Sufjan Stevens—and the actors are fantastic. Most importantly, the emotion and the essence of the novel are captured in a way I never thought possible.
My favorite scene is certainly the very last one. I can’t even tell you how brilliant it is! Every time I watched it I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I don’t want to get into too many details because you really have to see it for yourselves. Just be patient and watch it until the end. This scene lasts four minutes and it’s far from action-packed, to say the least, but it is one of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie. What a beautiful and mesmerizing way to capture love, loss, sorrows and the way we often suffer in silence while the world continues its path around us.
Just like the novel, the movie Call Me by Your Name is poignant and upsetting. It gives an almost identical yet different tone to the story, though I cannot grasp exactly what sets them apart.
This movie is most certainly worth 2 hours of your time. For the aesthetics, the astounding portrayal of both Elio and Oliver and the incredible chemistry between Armie and Timothée, just watch it. You will feel all the feels and praise the genius of both this story and its screen adaptation.
“In the weeks we had been thrown together that summer, our lives had scarcely touched, but we had crossed to the other bank, where time stops and heaven reaches down to earth and gives us that ration of what is from birth divinely ours. We looked the other way. We spoke about everything but. But we’ve always known, and not saying anything now confirmed it all the more. We had found the stars, you and I. And this is given once only.”
I hope you hadn’t expected a happily ever after. In fact, I hope you were smart enough to guess that a powerful story about first love and how it changes one and leaves an indelible mark on one’s life was not meant to have a perfect ending, but a bittersweet one.
I truly hope you will give a chance to both the movie and the novel. I am not lying or sugar coating anything when I say that this story is compelling and meaningful.
I also truly hope that nobody will refrain from diving into the book or the movie because of preconceptions about the fact that this is a love story between two guys, one being a teenager and the other a young adult. What I find truly beautiful about Call Me by Your Name is that it’s not a story about homosexuality or age discrepancy. It’s just a story about pure love and desire between two people that happen to be guys with a 7-year age difference.
I think everybody, whatever their age, gender or sexual orientation can relate to first love, loss, and unwanted acceptance. That’s what Call Me by Your Name is all about. And that’s why you will find this story beautiful, bittersweet and certainly worth your time.