Now that you’ve completely absorbed Luca Guadagnino’s captivating love story – here are the films you need to see next
So, by now, you’ve seen Call Me By Your Name twice and you’re buying copies of Andre Aciman’s novel to lend to friends. You’re cycling in the countryside to justify repeat listens of the Armie Hammer audiobook, and you’re scouring eBay for Elio’s Talking Heads t-shirt. You’re creating memes of Oliver’s dance moves, and you’re waiting for an empty flat in order to get intimate with a peach – a pleasurable practice that “works”, according to director Luca Guadagnino and star Timothée Chalamet.
But what’s next, besides further viewings, and booking a flight to Crema? Guadagnino, interestingly enough, is a former critic who speaks openly about his cinematic influences. He even compares 1983-set CMBYN to 2001: A Space Odyssey – not just for the moment the screen turns red, but because he believes a film’s fashion choices shouldn’t have to literally convey an era.
Since the film’s release, Guadagnino has teased the existence of a four-hour edit, and has revealed his plans for a 90s-set sequel to come out in 2020. Which is all well and good, but what about now? Luckily, there are plenty of CMBYN-related movies to also fall in love with. And just as Elio’s dalliance with Oliver will propel him towards other significant relationships, here’s how CMBYN can be a pathway to other valuable movies.
À NOS AMOURS (Maurice Pialat, 1983)
Andre Aciman’s novel may take place in 1987, but Guadagnino shifts the film’s setting to 1983 – the year of À nos Amours. Gaudagnino not only names Pialat’s coming-of-ager as the movie’s biggest influence, but he admits, “I wanted to prove to myself that I could tell the story (of Call Me By Your Name) from the perspective of someone like Pialat.”
À nos Amours, too, concerns a teen (Sandrine Bonnaire’s Suzanne is a year younger than Elio) navigating her sexual awakening, with both films patiently depicting young people flirting all afternoon and partying all night. Suzanne, though, is beset with an unsupportive, violent family; at the end, her father informs her, “You’ll never really love anyone.” It’s as if, with Michael Stuhlbarg’s character, Guadagnino is rewriting his favourite movie.
I AM LOVE (Luca Guadagnino, 2009)
Intriguingly, Guadagnino refers to I Am Love, A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name as his trilogy on desire. He’s smartly pretending Melissa P doesn’t exist, but in hindsight I Am Love is very much a demo version of CMBYN. The lush drama centres upon women hiding their relationships: Tilda Swinton tries, and fails, to resist an extramarital affair, while her daughter, Alba Rohrwacher, has a secret lesbian romance.
Like CMBYN, I Am Love toys with clothes, weather and architecture to mimic the characters’ internal emotions. When Swinton tastes prawns prepared by her lover, it’s practically food porn – foreshadowing Oliver slurping apricot juice and Elio not exactly eating his peach.
MAURICE (James Ivory, 1987)
James Ivory, now 89, adapted Call Me By Your Name in 2014 with plans to be the director. Instead, Guadagnino, the film’s initial locations manager, rose to fame and took over the project. Since then, Ivory, CMBYN’s sole credited screenwriter, has questioned why Guadagnino cut out the script’s copious male nudity, and you wonder what Ivory’s more explicit version could have been.
Regardless, Ivory did direct a great gay coming-of-ager 30 years ago. Maurice may be a period drama, but it’s far more engaging than the other Ivory-Merchant movies of its ilk, with Hugh Grant and James Wilby as two young men in love and petrified of society finding out. Note the similarity of both films’ final scene.
PRINCESS CYD (Stephen Cone, 2017)
Michael Stuhlbarg’s closing moment is, aside from the peach bit, most people’s favourite part of Call Me By Your Name. His reassuring monologue, which in itself will guarantee him an Oscar nomination, is a welcome surprise, when so much of LBGT cinema revolves around parents stuck behind the times.
A similar moment of positivity occurs in Princess Cyd when Cyd, a 16-year-old girl, confides to her aunt about her bisexuality. Her aunt responds: “You’re finding your own joy, and you’re engaging with your own stuff… It is not a handicap to have one thing but not another, to be one way and not another. We are different shapes and ways, and our happiness is unique.” It’s an optimistic coming-of-ager whereby the only obstacle is the butterflies in your stomach.
BLISSFULLY YOURS (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2002)
A chief pleasure of Call Me By Your Name is simply spending two hours in the hot, sweaty environment of what the intro refer to as “somewhere in northern Italy”. Really, it’s shot in Crema, near where Guadagnino grew up, with Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (who also lensed the upcoming Suspiria remake) capturing the magnificence of the humid surroundings.
Mukdeeprom is otherwise best known as Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s DP on masterworks such as Uncle Boonmee and Blissfully Yours. The latter fittingly follows two lovers lounging around in the jungle for a lazy afternoon of picnicking, swimming and sex. Like Elio sharing his favourite watery hideout with Oliver, Blissfully Yours embraces the slow romance of getting lost in nature.
THE WAY HE LOOKS (Daniel Ribeiro, 2014)
The sensuousness of Call Me By Your Name and its relationship with water (Elio’s hideout, the swimming, chasing the waterfall) makes it an ideal pairing with The Way He Looks. In Ribeiro’s Brazil-set teen romance, a blind boy called Leonardo develops a crush on the new kid at school, Fabio, and a hot summer ensues.
The gay romance plays out through the eroticism of their constant touching – is Fabio just helping Leonardo around, or is there more? – and in swimming pools, where Leonardo can feel the world around him. It brings to mind how Elio and Oliver can sit opposite each other in a pool and savour the ripples of the water on their skin.
1900 (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1976)
In 2013, Guadagnino directed Bertolucci on Bertolucci, a feature-length tribute to his idol and mentor. Plus, the influence cannot be denied: Guadagnino shows Bertolucci the early cuts of his movies for feedback. “Bertolucci meant cinema for me,” Guadagnino says, “and I couldn’t think of cinema without thinking of Bertolucci.”
For Call Me By Your Name, the Bertolucci movie Guadagnino cites as a particular reference point is 317-minute political drama 1900. In fact, the moment where Elio and Oliver stop cycling for a glass of water (you might have forgotten this bit – it bears no significance to the story) is, according to CMBYN’s editor, an intended nod to 1990, which was shot in the same area.
BEAU TRAVAIL (Claire Denis, 1999)
Guadagnino has name-checked Jean Renoir, Jacques Rivette, Éric Rohmer and the aforementioned Maurice Pialat as French auteurs he wished to emulate with Call Me By Your Name. But for further viewing, you should seek out Claire Denis’ Beau Travail, a hypnotic tale of forbidden gay desire in a sweltering climate.
Unfolding in Djibouti, Beau Travail stars Denis Lavant as a sergeant forced to repress his homosexuality in an all-male environment. Due to the film’s mostly non-verbal tensions, Lavant ends up bursting to life during his many memorable dance sequences. It’s similar to how Oliver lets loose to the Psychedelic Furs not once, but twice – with Elio watching from afar, wishing he could join in.
MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (Gus Van Sant, 1991)
Guadagnino’s diss from 2015 towards Xavier Dolan for being too prolific and using an aspect ratio “gimmick” was not only unnecessary, but highly hypocritical: Call Me By Your Name was hastily slotted in before Suspiria, and it deploys plenty of tricks, such as switching to negative exposures during Elio and Oliver’s final getaway.
This sense of fun, though, is what enriches CMBYN’s liveliness and spontaneity. A comparison could be made with Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, a shape-shifting road movie which tells a tender love story between Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix while tricking viewers into enduring 20 minutes of Henry IV.
GOODBYE, FIRST LOVE (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2012)
Bafflingly, Call Me By Your Name once had an omniscient narrator (Guadagnino compares it to Barry Lyndon’s voiceover) which was thankfully removed during postproduction. “In a way,” Guadagnino says, “the narrator became Sufjan Stevens with his new songs.”
It recalls Hansen-Løve’s Goodbye, First Love, another poignant tale of teen heartbreak which lets the acting speak for itself. During the final moments, Camille – still pondering the collapse of her relationship – swims in the river as Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling’s duet “The Water” plays over the credits. As with Elio sobbing to Sufjan’s closing track, it’s unfathomable that any voiceover could match the song’s emotional impact.