“Call Me By Your Name” and LGBTQ+ representation


Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in the romantic drama “Call Me By Your Name” directed by Luca Guadagnino. (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Isabella Brock, Contributing Writer

“Call Me By Your Name” was released earlier this January after months of anticipation from audiences.  The film is based on the acclaimed 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman, about a 17-year-old boy living in Italy who falls in love with an older male graduate student who has come to stay with his family.  The film was directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino and is stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer.

Rich with culture and sensuality, the beautiful Italian landscapes and whirlwind romance has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Since its limited release beginning in November, the film has gathered mass attention for its overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. A frontrunner for this awards season, the film has already laid a legacy as a beloved and important film for the LGBT community.

Chalamet plays Elio Pearlman, a quiet and emotional young man spending his summer in Italy with his family. Hammer plays Oliver, an outgoing graduate student who is the subject of Elio’s desire and represents much of what Elio aspires to be. As the summer progresses, Elio finds himself increasingly drawn to Oliver, who seems to be nonchalant about their relationship. After a confession by Elio, the two begin an affair that is kept secret from Elio’s family and friends. The summer won’t last a lifetime, and the two are faced with separating after experiencing a love that has deeply changed the both of them.

Written by filmmaker James Ivory, the film is filled with beautiful dialogue that echoes the sense of longing Elio feels for Oliver from the first shots. It is reminiscent of Ivory’s earlier romantic classics such as “A Room With A View” or “Maurice.” It is a quiet kind of love, pulled off by the talented acting by Chalamet and Hammer.

Chalamet had little film acting experience before this film and no lead acting experience at all, yet his performance perfectly conveys the overlying emotion of the film. Chalamet portrays an innocence that brings the audience to remember their own first love. His mannerisms are childlike and portray complete inexperience, making him all the more charming.

Hammer pulls off Oliver’s easy-going nature completely, and you fall in love with his character immediately. The two performances complement each other perfectly; where Chalamet plays emotion quietly, Hammer screams his from the mountaintops. Supporting performances by Esther Garrel, Amira Casar and Michael Stuhlbarg pull the film together as a complete world.

Stuhlbarg’s heart-wrenching speech to Elio at the end of the film is perhaps one of the most memorable monologues in contemporary film history. Each supporting role furthers the relationship between Elio and Oliver, showing their own faults or virtues through interactions with others.

The film’s use of the beautiful Italian landscape and its focus on the art and literature of the country makes the production feel like something out of a dream. Guadagnino directs the romance as reflective of the beautiful world around it.

Filmed primarily in a 17th-century mansion, the production seems completely timeless. The soundtrack, filled with a mix of piano ballads and ’80s pop hits, perfectly balances the timelessness of the film with its modern influences. Piano classics including Maurice Ravel’s “Une Barque Sur L’océan” accompany the ageless Italian landscapes, while contemporary hits like “Love My Way” by the Psychedelic Furs illustrate scenes of ’80s teenage life. While Elio and Oliver’s relationship is faced with problems of ostracization from their own generation, Guadagnino focuses on the universally understood issues of unrequited or forbidden love. Guadagnino strived to make a film that reflected love in a way which is absolutely timeless and inclusive to all people, regardless of sexuality.

The film paints Elio and Oliver’s love in a way that has been praised by members of the LGBT community, foregoing problems of sexuality for the problems any loving relationship would have. Elio and Oliver’s romance is an important leap for Hollywood away from the typical narrative of an LGBT film. Its messages and beauty transcend bounds of a same-sex relationship, encouraging a wider acceptance of love of all kinds. The film’s cultural significance and expertly crafted production has already secured it a spot with the greats. It currently sits at number 176 in a list of the best 250 films on IMDb. With four pending Oscar nominations, “Call Me By Your Name” has the potential to cause some serious change on how LGBT stories are portrayed in Hollywood.