The undertones of love and desire in Call Me By Your Name.

Call Me By Your Name is one of those movies you won’t forget. Not only because it is a beautiful coming-of-age love story, with impeccable cinematography, but because the characters in this film will take you on a marvellous journey in search of idyllic treasures.

This search leads to the self-discovery of a teenager who begins to explore the different shades of desire and love when a new man enters his life.

During the summer of 1983, somewhere in the region of Lombardy, Italy; at 17 years old, the sophisticated and beautiful Elio is spending holidays with his parents in their old Italian villa. Each summer, his father, a professor of art history and archaeology, invites a graduate student to live with his family for six weeks and help with his academic paperwork.

This year, their guest is Oliver, a handsome 24-year-old man, who displays the security and confidence that Elio is looking for himself.


After spending some time together, surrounded by art and in the heat of summer; a growing sensual atmosphere feeds the connection between Elio and Oliver, and it seems inevitable that this relationship of camaraderie will lead to an idyllic story of love.

While a range of power dynamics take place between the characters in this film, all of them are motivated by love and desire.

Call me by your name is a romantic drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman.

This love story has taken the breath of the public, and there is nothing but praise coming from the critics for the performances of Timothée Chalamet (as Elio Perlman) and Armie Hammer (as Oliver).

The harmony of adaptation accomplished between Guadagnino and Ivory has resulted in a masterpiece. The way the narrative brings the characters to life through conversations about ethics – abundant in historical references – is more than clever. 

The narrative in this film has the most exquisite subtexts. The story raises the struggles of the adolescent – in this case Eilo – and their need for guidance in their journey towards maturity.

The role of Elio’s parents is crucial in this journey as they surround him with love and are his main guidance. It is not fortuitous that Elio’s father, Dr. Perlman, is an archaeologist and historian – he is a source of wisdom and support for his son. Through their conversations and reflections, this relationship is portrayed one of the most beautiful father-son scenes I have ever seen in film.

The ethical question of the desire between Elio and Oliver comes to light when Dr. Perlman and his intern are gazing upon sculptures from the Hellenistic period.

“They are supremely sensual”, comments Oliver, to which Elio’s father replies; “Ageless ambiguity. As if they are daring you to desire them.”

It is a line that calls us to stop and make an internal reflection about the matter of the ‘ageless ambiguity’ in the  phenomenon of desire. It dares you.

This is a film that has implications beyond just gay cinema, it appeals to ideas of maturity and the ethics surrounding the awakening of sexual desire.

It’s a charming love story and provides us with a great opportunity to question, or confirm, our own ideas about desire and attraction. A great chance to understand, as well as contemplate, the important role older generations play in the awakening of teenagers to maturity and the discovery of love.


Article | Lee Torres Calderon