Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 coming-of-age drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman. It is the final installment in Guadagnino’s thematic Desire trilogy, following I Am Love (2009) and A Bigger Splash (2015). Set in Northern Italy in 1983, Call Me by Your Name chronicles the romantic relationship between Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old living in Italy, and his father’s 24-year-old American assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). The film also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, and Victoire Du Bois.
Call Me by Your Name began development in 2007, when producers Peter Spears and Howard Rosenman optioned the screen rights to Aciman’s novel. Ivory was initially set to co-direct the film, but became the screenwriter and a producer instead. Guadagnino, who came on board as a location consultant, eventually became director and producer. The film was financed by several international companies, and principal photography mainly took place in Crema, Italy in May and June 2016. Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom shot the film on 35-mm film.
Call Me by Your Name was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics before its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017. It began a limited release in the United States on November 24, 2017, before going wide on January 19, 2018. The film received numerous accolades and praise for its performances, screenplay, direction, and music. At the 90th Academy Awards, it won for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chalamet) and Best Original Song (“Mystery of Love”). Ivory also won awards for his screenplay at the 23rd Critics’ Choice Awards, the 70th Writers Guild of America Awards and the 71st British Academy Film Awards. Chalamet was also nominated for a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actor.
Elio, a 17-year-old Jewish American-Italian boy, lives in the northern Italian countryside with his parents. His father, a professor of archaeology, invites a 24-year-old Jewish American graduate student, Oliver, to live with his family during the summer of 1983 and help with his academic paperwork. Elio, an introspective bibliophile and musical prodigy, finds little in common with Oliver’s carefree and exuberant personality. Elio also resents vacating his bedroom for the duration of Oliver’s stay. Elio spends much of the summer reading books, playing the piano, and hanging out with his girlfriend, Marzia, while Oliver is attracted to one of the local girls, much to Elio’s chagrin.
Elio and Oliver begin to spend time with each other, and a seductive courtship emerges—they swim together, go for long walks in the town, and accompany Elio’s father on an archaeological trip. Although Elio begins a sexual relationship with Marzia and brags about it in front of Oliver to gauge his reaction, he increasingly finds himself attracted to Oliver. He sneaks into Oliver’s room to smell his bathing suit and thinks about him while masturbating. During a trip to the post office, Elio subtly confesses his feelings to Oliver, who gently tells him that he should not act on them. Later that day, Elio and Oliver kiss, though Oliver is reluctant to go further. The pair subsequently grow distant during the next few days.
In response to a note from Elio, Oliver leaves a note on Elio’s desk telling Elio to meet him at midnight. Elio spends the day with Marzia, all the while longing to see Oliver. Finally, at midnight, he approaches Oliver on the patio, which initiates the two to have sex for the first time. They grow closer over the next few days, having sex frequently while keeping their relationship secret. In bed, Oliver tells Elio, “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine”. They become more intimate both physically and emotionally. On one occasion, Elio ejaculates into a peach that he has split open, and when Oliver discovers it, he tries to take a bite of the peach in front of a humiliated Elio, who begs him not to. Completely smitten with Oliver by this point, Elio starts avoiding Marzia.
With the end of Oliver’s stay imminent, the couple find themselves overcome by uncertainty and longing. Elio’s parents, conscious of the bond between the two, recommend they take a trip to Bergamo together before Oliver goes back to the United States. After they spend three romantic days together, a heartbroken Elio calls his mother to pick him up and take him home. He encounters a sympathetic Marzia, who still wants to be his friend, and his father, seeing how forlorn his son is, tells him that he was aware of Elio’s affair with Oliver. He confesses to having come close to his own love affair with a friend in his youth, and urges Elio to find pleasure in his grief, since true love, the kind Elio and Oliver shared, is rare.
During Hanukkah, Elio receives a phone call from Oliver, who tells Elio and his family that he is engaged to be married. Oliver tells Elio that he remembers everything as they call each other by their names one more time. After the phone call, a pained Elio sits by the fireplace. A parade of emotions crosses his face as his parents and the house staff prepare a holiday dinner.