“Call me by your Name” Receives Global Praise
Luca Guadagnino’s Call me by your Name, based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman, takes place in Northern Italy in 1983. Oliver, 24, played by Armie Hammer, is an American student who goes to Italy for the summer. There he meets Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet, who is 17, and the son of Oliver’s professor. The two young men fall in love in the idyllic Italian countryside and the bittersweet fairytale takes off.
Call me by your Name has received a lot of positive attention from critics as a refreshing, yet timeless love story. So far, it’s earned three Golden Globe nominations: Best Drama Motion Picture, Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture (Chalamet), and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Motion Picture (Hammer). It has also received eight Critic’s Choice Nominations including Best Director (Guadagnino), Best Adapted Screenplay (James Ivory), and Best Cinematography (Sayombhu Mukdeeprom). Call me by your Name was also named as one of the top 10 films of 2017 by the National Board of Review.
One of the most obvious controversies with the film is the age difference between the characters, Oliver and Elio. Oliver is in his mid-twenties, while Elio has not even reached adulthood. A few have spoken out saying that their relationship is pedophilic, however, Elio’s intellectual maturity makes him wise beyond his years, and in Italy, their love affair is not considered illegal, as the legal age of consent is 14. Armie Hammer defends the love story to Hollywood Reporter explaining that the love affair between Oliver and Elio “isn't a normal situation: The younger guy goes after the older guy. The dynamic is not older-predator-versus-younger-boy."
Another controversy is the downplayed sexuality in the film. Many were surprised and vexed that a gay sex scene was not included in the film. Some consider this to be homophobic and hypocritical. These critics believe that this choice was made intentionally to cater to a heterosexual audience by sheltering them from gay intimacy. Guadagnino, an openly gay man, stands by his film and his artistic choices and states, “the tone would’ve been very different from what I was looking for. I wanted the audience to completely rely on the emotional travel of these people and feel first love. I didn’t want the audience to find any difference or discrimination toward these characters.”
Although some were displeased with specific aspects of the film, the film’s portrayal of a gay love story breaks boundaries. There is no AIDS, no violence, shame, or guilt. The characters do not become victims or face discrimination from others because of their affair. Call me by your Name avoids these typical clichés, and can simply be called a romance.