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“Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine.”

My brother claimed this line, from the film Call Me By Your Name, based off the book of the same name by André Aciman, was a little weird. He wondered why, in a romantic relationship, you’d want to call your partner by your own name. But in a movie about learning to love and accept yourself for who you are, it’s a profound revelation. When you’re falling in love with someone else, it can be easy to forget who you are and to neglect to love yourself. And that’s why this line is the perfect title for this coming-of-age romance.

Call Me By Your Name takes place in Italy during the summer of 1983, as a 17 year old boy named Elio discovers himself and develops a relationship with a student named Oliver who comes to intern for Elio’s professor father.

I knew this movie was going to be enjoyable. In fact, I wrote an article last semester about why you should get excited for Call Me By Your Name. However, I didn’t know it would have such a huge effect on me. I’ve seen the movie three times now. Normally, I can barely make it through a movie the first time through. Sitting still and focusing on a screen for two hours doesn’t appeal to me. Call My By Your Name is not like any other movie I’ve seen before, because each time I’ve seen it, it’s held my attention as if it were the first time. The movie’s run time is over 2 hours, and while I’m normally checking my watch by 30 minutes into a movie, not once during any of the times I saw the movie did I even think about time. That’s how captivating this movie is. While viewing, all concept of time and the world around me is lost, and I’m in Italy in 1983.

There’s something about Elio that’s so relatable to me at this point in my life, despite me not being a teenage boy. At the beginning of the summer, Elio is pretty sure of who he is, until he meets Oliver, at which point his world gets turned upside down. He’s suddenly not sure of what he wants, how he feels or what his feelings mean. Elio knows he likes girls, but he’s wondering if it’s possible to like both girls and guys. As I go down a path of self-discovery and as the way I see the world changes, as my perspective is altered and as what I thought I knew for sure about myself isn’t so certain anymore, watching Elio experience the same things is extremely impactful. Elio finally realizes he’s falling for Oliver, but does Oliver even like him back? How would he know?

“Is it better to speak or to die?”

This is probably my favorite singular line from the movie. It relates back to a German story in which a knight is in love with a princess, but isn’t sure he wants to tell her, for fear she might not feel the same way. The story is discussed between Elio and his parents, and then Elio and Oliver in what becomes a sort of turning point for their relationship. So many times we end up in a situation where we want to tell someone something, but we’re so scared of what this person’s reaction might be, we don’t say anything at all. The above quote is a kind of life changing way to think about things; your only two options are to speak or to die without ever saying what you were really feeling. The movie proves: better to speak.

The whole movie is outstanding, and throughout watching I find myself thinking “Oh, this is my favorite scene,” only to realize five minutes later that wait, no, I also like this scene the best. However, if I had to choose the most poignant part of Call Me By Your Name, the scene where I hang onto every word being said, it would have to be the monologue by Elio’s father near the end of the movie. This scene and these words moved me so deeply that I could barely function for three days after the first time I saw the film. The whole movie has this sort of effect on me, but this scene in particular, these words the professor says to his young son, are what I come back to the most in reflecting on the movie. Without giving too much away, here’s my favorite part of the monologue:

“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.”

I’ve only mentioned a small fraction of what I love about this movie, but to say any more would simply spoil the experience of watching Call Me By Your Name for the first time. For anyone who has ever wondered if they should tell someone how they feel, for anyone who’s ever been a teenager, for anyone who has ever been in love, for anyone who has ever wished to change some innate part of themselves, for anyone who is or knows someone who is LGBTQA+, for anyone who is discovering themselves, for anyone at all really, this movie is for you.

 

Call Me By Your Name is currently playing at Cinemapolis in Ithaca and various theaters across the country.

Asian Studies major who enjoys horseback riding, crochet, singing, and musical theater. Passionate about public service and addressing economic inequality and women's, LGBTQ+ and minority rights.
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