Review of the Movie Call Me By Your Name: A Critical Essay
By Maya Cruz
Call Me By Your Name is an extraordinary story showcasing genuine romance: fleeting and pure. The story brings the spontaneous essence of love to the light, despite unfavorable circumstances.
The captivatingly beautiful novel-turned-film, Call Me By Your Name, dares to toy with the idea of pure, boundless, consuming romance despite unfavorable odds. Recently more than ever before, people have come together to fight for love, leaving behind the dated ideals of heteronormative relationships. In fact, Call Me By Your Name fights for so much beyond destroying the stigma around homosexuality. Between summer days, swimming at the secluded lake and getting lost in books, peach trees and bike bells, Oliver and Elio’s story encapsulates the true and fleeting essence of love that dominates the ill hand they were dealt.
This expression of passionate, intimate love governs the story, leaving the aspects of their circumstances that would be considered problematic, controversial, or repentant left in dust. As the story was set in the 1980s, the aura of disgrace surrounding homosexuality was far more common. For a long time, there was a widespread belief that there was shame in same-sex love, or that it was unnatural and against God’s will. With Oliver and Elio’s budding relationship evolving to a strong admiration, Oliver is put on edge. Oliver was resistant at first, as he says they “haven’t done anything to be ashamed of” and they “can’t talk about those kinds of things.” Same-sex attraction wasn’t the only underlying idea of controversy in Oliver and Elio’s relationship. With the seven-year age difference between the men, Elio being 17 and Oliver 24, it could be viewed as a pedophelic relationship. Some may argue that the story puts a “stamp of approval” on pedophilia, masking it with the beauty of the story. With gender and age confining their relationship, Oliver and Elio also live far from each other. Nothing other than the summer of 1983 ties them together.
What makes the story so overwhelmingly genuine and beautiful is that despite everything, they were in love. They overcame the stigma around gayness because when their feelings intensified, they had no choice. The story paints Oliver and Elio amidst a deeply genuine and rare romance, as well as proving that love is simply love. While it can be argued that Elio is a minor and Oliver is too old for him, pedophiles are also known as sexual predators; it is apparent in the story that in no way is Oliver preying on Elio, exclusively attracted to children, or fetishizing his adolescence. Instead, their romance buds from a place of observation, or even contemplation. It first came off as condescending, jealous, slightly trivial. However, their fondness for each other overpowers adversities in their situation in the eye of society. Their ephemeral love follows no rules. It is pure and vivid, uncaring of whether their ages or genders align, if they live near to each other, if they would be thought of as shameful, if what they wanted could fit under a label. It just was; they just loved, untouched, once there was a release of all margins.
The story of Oliver and Elio is the birth of everything people may have said no to before. The captivating composition of the plot allows for the beauty of love to overcome everything else. It shows them as doing everything society would have labeled as wrong, yet still being absolutely pure, amidst an inexplicable experience.
My idea for this piece came when I was rewatching the Call Me By Your Name film. I love it for everything it is, and I felt that what it stands for is something I am passionate enough to write about. I love the purity of the story, how unwaveringly true it felt, and the impeccable way it captivated that fleeting sense of romance. The rawness of the chemistry had my heart gripped, and I felt like writing about what made me feel so intensely, as well as speak of all it represents, would be something that I’d really love to do. I wrote this all in one sitting on a Sunday morning, sort of engrossed with the story, and essence of the summer it portrayed. I took a break from it for a little while, to let my words sit and to let my brain rest. I let a couple family members read or edit it, and I walked it through a Critical Essay Rubric. At first, I doubted my writing, and wasn’t proud of it. However, over some time, I grew to appreciate it because of the joy I got from writing it.
Maya Cruz is a New York City born and raised daughter, sister, and student. She has a burning passion for the arts and the overlap they have with the natural world. Writing especially has helped her evolve her perspective, which she hopes to continue sharing.