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Crema Countryside Or Campy Courts? Pick Your Poison, We’re Having A Luca Guadagnino Summer.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

With June looming on the horizon, it’s starting to feel like summer is just a breath away. 

Every Spring, I eagerly await my pre-summer ritual of watching Call Me By Your Name to warm up to the start of summer. But this year, Luca Guadagnino has given us yet another hot – in the realm of weather and far beyond – cinematic masterpiece. 

This summer, not only do we get to dwell on the perfection that is the Elio and Oliver’s Italian love affair, but we also get to embrace the sexy, sweaty perfection that is Challengers

These two films together propose a summer of intense fluidity: of thoughts, of movement, of to whom we attach our romantic desires. In the Crema countryside of Call Me By Your Name and in the campy courts of Challengers, there are no rules but one: to be without bounds. 

Well, there might be one more rule: breaking a sweat. 


While the settings of Challengers and Call Me By Your Name in many ways couldn’t be more different from one another, they both elicit a mood which can only be described as stunningly summery. 

There is something so special about the countryside of Crema in CMBYN that makes it nearly impossible to adequately describe the setting. The scenes are rich with organic colors and accompanied by sounds of undisturbed nature that I could listen to on a never-ending loop. The creaky floors of the villa rip open nostalgic drawers from parts of us we didn’t even know existed, and the strewn about sheet music and books have us longing to replicate a time and place where life was nothing if not slow and intentional. 

To me, nothing says ideal summer more than the Perlman’s villa, Lake Garda, and Elio’s secret spot. But there is also something so dreamlike about the setting that makes it always feel *just* out of reach. 

And that’s how Challengers comes in to complete this proposed summer scenery, introducing us to another Guadagnino cinematic landscape that feels tangible, in the way that CMBYN often does not. 

In Challengers, their summer fun is often erected from the most unassuming places: a dingy motel room, a “New Rochelle” racquet club, saunas, and windy parking lots. There’s cheap beer and cigarettes but there’s also electric green grass tennis courts and luxe hotels. Tashi, Art, and Patrick give us a taste of all the drama and attraction that can emerge from such deep aesthetic binaries. 

All the more proof that a saucy summer doesn’t depend on access to an Italian villa.


Everyone give a big round of applause to Luca Guadagnino, who has delivered us two perfect soundtracks capable of accompanying our summertime selves from daytime dalliances well into our evening excursions. 

The Call Me By Your Name soundtrack feels like there’s sunlight written into it: a floaty and feather-light mélange of loaded anticipation and concealed melancholy. It’s pensive and sometimes moody, but always bright. 

The grand extent of classical pieces and Sufjan Stevens songs on this soundtrack make simple the affair of romanticizing the mundane, while the 80s synth keeps it fresh and fun. The overall mix sounds like making a day out of warm champagne and chain smoking by a stone trough pool. 

Then you have the Challengers soundtrack that diverts from the mystique of the CMBYN soundtrack just as much as it converges. Both of the soundtracks, at one point or another, will have you feeling like you’re Elio or Tashi parading around a dance floor to French techno beats on a crowded patio. But where Challengers starts to break away is the angst. 

The Challengers soundtrack is saturated with sexual tension and shameless lust. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross put together an original score that sets everyone on the edge of their seats – constantly awaiting a climax that is never quite realized, a clear nod to the film’s ending. It’s upbeat, fiery, and just so sultry. 

With these two soundtracks, Luca set us up for a summer of play disguised as work (enter Tashi and Art: the coaching couple) and work that’s actually just play (enter Oliver: the graduate student).


A Luca Guadagnino summer calls for misleadingly casual looks – that ‘I’m trying, but never too hard’ alluring indifference.  

Even with Jonathan Anderson spearheading what has turned out to be life-alteringly chic Challengers costuming, Guadagnino’s characters just can’t stay away from billowing linens, the art of the perfect t-shirt, and of course, the blue dance floor ensemble. 

Beyond Oliver’s oh-so-coveted colorblock swim trunks – though really only coveted by Elio – and the astounding number of short-sleeve button up shirts, the characters in Call Me By Your Name are always swathed in the most mesmerizing linen pieces.

The way that the linens hit the mid-afternoon sun, turning momentarily transparent, provides evidence of tanned skin and softens the characters’ movement. Now, every time I grab my pair of linen pants, I try to emulate that flawless visual representation of late summer’s deliciously drowsy energy. 

From the now-iconic Loewe “I Told Ya” t-shirt to Elio and Oliver’s myriad of graphic tees, each one of Luca’s central personnages are proof that a t-shirt is all about the styling. 

You know that ratty, oversized t-shirt you threw over last night’s dress the morning after? In the Luca Guadagnino-verse, with some Law Roach styling – a tailored trench, and a burnt honey bob – you can elevate that cotton trophy into a Zendaya x Challengers press tour look.

Or if Italian ennui is more your speed, white high tops and his signature Wayfarer sunglasses could have you completing an aesthetic morph into a 21st century Elio. 

And how could we forget the blue dancefloor ensemble? It all started with Elio’s dance floor blue polo’ed shoulder shake, but we were all ended by Tashi twirling about in that damn blue strapless dress. Will we ever recover? Probably not. 

Note to self: find a blue set to tear up a dancefloor before the start of summer. 

So, grab a churro, raise your glass of apricot juice, and let’s toast to a summer spent in this Crema x Courts cinematic landscape!

Ellie is a second-year Global Studies major at UCLA, from Charlotte, NC. Her favorite author is Sally Rooney, and she loves re-reading books, playing field hockey, cooking for friends, and photographing them on her camera. In the summer, you can find her in downtown Manhattan peeking into a vintage store or writing in a coffee shop.