top of page

Call Me by Your Name- Do You Love and Leave?


this child is still

-born. It assumes airs

and love

and dies. It had no air,

before it needed air,

and no amount of wind can bring it here.

When we sat down to watch 'Call Me By Your Name' we expected to see a movie about love. We had had recommendations from all the bloggers in the posts below this one urging us to watch it. We were not disappointed and so we decided to write about it together. The beautiful setting, the exquisite characters, the intellectual discourse and references, the aesthetics of the young actors and the tranquil scenery - they all make you fall in love with the movie. But "Call Me By Your Name" is an exceptional love story in that it's not really a love story at all.

Love is a character, just like anything in the lives of human beings. The beginning of love is always attraction. As Elio's father says, we are drawn to the story told by the naked bodies of boys from antiquity, be it ancient or that of the eighties. This enchantment makes us blind to a crucial absence we cannot pinpoint. It is because we are in love in what we see, that we imagine that what Elio and Oliver have is love as well. This movie is somehow our falling in love and the beauty of the fall intoxicates us.

It starts from a longing, which stems from boredom. We imagine love, partly through the power of Elio and Oliver and partly through our power, while we are witnessing Elio and Oliver. The fall is short and fierce, but is frozen in time. It is an excerpt. As much an excerpt as a village in Italy in 1983, isolated from any difficulties by an inheritance. As much an excerpt as adolescence, on the verge of adulthood. It is a moment in time, in which everything is allowed. As much an excerpt as the hand of a sculpture, an image of an artifact of something frozen. We see a beautiful picture, imagine its past and its future, bringing it to life. But what is love?

If Elio and Oliver would think themselves in love, is it our business to say that they are not? M thinks that it isn't. But she would like to say to Elio and Oliver, if you had said yes to this love, and continued, if you had really given it a chance, if you had faced the crisis of being uncertain in love and would have chosen to stay, could this love, this choice, every day, compare to what you first had? R would like to say that it is precisely our business to say that they are not. He sees a picture of love but not love itself. He sees a potential that is wasted. Love is about moving out of yourself to move in with your love. In love we don't have any alternative. In love, an alternative to love is choosing nothing.

In "As You Like It", we have Orlando and Rosalind, the main pair that the comedy revolves around. Their attraction is also first and foremost physical. Rosalind watches Orlando as he beats someone in a wrestling match and she is instantly attracted. Later, when they both happen into the same forest, as Elio and Oliver happen into our small Italian town, Rosalind disguises herself as a boy to protect herself from the harsh reality of what can befall women, alone on the road. She meets Orlando in the forest, after having first discovered his sonnets in her praise, which he literally hung on trees all over the forest. After she meets him, she proceeds to convince him that she can rid him of love, by impersonating the subject of his affection. This quickly moves to a point, that Orlando is so caught up with the character that Rosalind presents, that he almost kisses her, as she is still in disguise. The character of Rosalind and her imposing of life onto the character that Orlando created for himself of her, changes his initial infatuation into something real. Love's character is transformed. For R, this is love, a thing that evolves, transforms and changes with time.

“Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punish'd and cured is that the lunacy is so

ordinary that the whippers are in love too.” 

For M, what "Call Me By Your Name" lacks is a reason for the story of the infatuation to end. This story supplies every reason for Elio and Oliver to continue being with each other and yet they choose otherwise, instead savoring things, as if knowing that they won't last. In "La La Land", Mia and Sebastian try to explore what their love is like and when it fails them, it is because they favored their life's desire. Even in the end, there's a final exploration of an entire lifetime of what their love could have become. It's sad to think about it, but maybe what "Call Me By Your Name" is trying to tell us is that love is arbitrary, and as it begins out of nowhere, that is also how it could end. This story is an exceptional love story, because it's not really a love story at all. It explores what love is and what love isn't, showing us beauty in its wake.

"I lived in misery, like every man whose soul is tethered by the love of things that cannot last and then is agonized to lose them[…] Consequently, my life was now a horror to me because I did not want to live as a half self. But it may have been that I was afraid to die, lest he should then die wholly whom I had so greatly loved." (Augustine, IV) Maybe at the end of the day, both of us are romanticizing love as something that is more than it is in reality. But if the love between Oliver and Elio was as great as the movie tries to show, then how do they move on so easily? How do they give up, of their own accord and not feel the anguish of depravation that we see in Augustine - an anguish that cannot come from the things that happen in the movie.

In true love, you don't leave those you love.

128 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

May 23, 2018

Was their bond stillborn – loveless and doomed from the start? That’s even gloomier than my morose musings! 😊 R, you write “In love we don't have any alternative. In love, an alternative to love is choosing nothing.” But nothingness is where choice is coming from: while you love, if you can imagine being out of it, you experience, in that very moment, the alternative. That alternative is nothingness – not “nothing,” but something, whether painful, pleasing or numbing. You realize the “otherwise,” and it is that realization that turns your love into choice – rather than the irresistible force we sometimes make of it. I still have no idea if Elio and Oliver dared looking into that nothingness, whether…

bottom of page