Call Me by Your Name: A Literal Masterpiece

The story of the novel has been told twice, and both times have produced masterpieces within the literary and cinematic worlds.

Often books get unfairly labeled. You may hear about how a certain story only appeals to one specific audience and you may avoid it. Or, on the contrary, plenty of times when there’s so much hype around a piece of art that your enjoyment may dampen once you’ve gotten to experience it yourself. This is why we have to be careful when referring to things as ‘masterpieces’. That being said, Call Me by Your Name is a story that means so much to so many people because of its great writing, and many do refer to it as a masterpiece.


The Book

The story of Call Me by Your Name takes place somewhere in Italy in the 80s, and follows Elio, as he is trying to navigate through his desires and feelings. It’s difficult for him to fully grasp it while simultaneously being aware of the implications in the real world. Nevertheless, though, the story takes place anywhere but in ‘the real world’. It’s a utopia of beautiful scenery with tasty fruits, summer sports, and constant swimming under the embrace of the sun. Throughout most of the beginning of the novel, we read about Elio’s burgeoning lust. As a teenager, he obviously has very little control over his wants and needs.

Oliver is a scholar who’s here to assist Mr. Perlman. He’s confident and seems to know himself to a level beyond his age. “Is it better to speak or to die?” That’s the question he now has to fight inward with. Does he risk throwing away the possibility of something or keep living with nothing?

There’s no villain other than time itself. Oliver has six weeks to stay, that’s it. Every day that passes by without Elio begrudgingly expressing himself in one way or another is a day they’ll never get back. Andre Aciman clearly knew how to write about heartbreak without a solution.

The novel has been praised to the highest degree. It’s often referred to as having received ‘rave reviews’ from literary critics. Its popularity rose to another level once the movie adaptation was released in late 2017.


The Movie

Luca Guadagnino had to fight an uphill battle to get the film made for years. Ultimately though, his real battle may have come in having to adapt this kind of incredible story from the book to the screen. After all, how do you express the kind of mesmerizing words that the novel possesses? The result turned out to be awarded four Oscar nominations, however, success wasn’t simply a given.

Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet gave life to Oliver and Elio respectively. Both had to present the audience with the kind of performances in which what’s not being said is just as important as what is. The silent yearning is a key component of what makes the story masterful. There’s no tragedy but the tragedy of time. Nothing hurts more than having to say goodbye. That’s at the crux of the film. The lighthearted tone only presents itself as a cover of what’s really going on beneath the surface. You watch the movie loving these characters when suddenly reality sneaks up on you.

As almost anyone will testify to this; watching this film will make you want to visit Italy immediately. The picturesque fields, the apricot juice, the fruits in the trees, the water, it’s all filmed in such an alluring manner.

The main differences between the book and the movie revolve around the vision of the director Guadagnino. He wanted a story a little more surprising and more heavily focused on the sensory experience.

The kind of impact a story like this has had and will continue to have is immeasurable. So many people relate to the story deeply. It’s a credit to the writer Andre Aciman, that his story still holds so much weight even after 15 years now. Transcendent stories come only once in a while and this is one of those.



Photo: marhus/Shutterstock


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