My latest obsession is Call Me By Your Name. The book was published in 2006 and recently there has been a film based on the book. I watched the film first about two weeks before I read the book. It was definitely one of the best films I have ever seen. Reading the book was a different experience because it differed slightly from the film and it made me think about the characters in new ways. In this post, I will review both the film and the book and determine which comes out on top.
Call Me By Your Name is about the romance between seventeen-year-old Elio and twenty-four-year-old Oliver that develops over six weeks in the summer of 1983. Elio’s father, a professor, allows the American Oliver (who is a student in the film and a professor in the book) to live with his family in exchange for some help with his academics.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
I went into the movie not knowing much about it and as a result questioned what it was even about while watching the first thirty minutes. It didn’t really seem like a romance would blossom between them and I wasn’t sure I even wanted one to. I am against a relationship between a seventeen-year-old and a twenty-four-year-old. That just seems like an age gap too inappropriate. The actor who played Elio (Timothee Chalamet) actually looked seventeen whereas the actor who played Oliver (Armie Hammer) looked his real age (thirty-one) instead of twenty-four. But, I must admit that I got over it as the film progressed because it was shot so well and the acting was well-done.
Elio was a fantastic main character. He came across as quiet and mysterious. His age made him appear young and carefree, which lead him to do several reckless things. On the screen, he was a delight to watch. I related less to Oliver, who seemed somewhat big-headed because of his intelligence. Their relationship was so interesting to watch and my eyes were glued to the screen for the whole two hours. I knew it was going to end tragically because Oliver was only living in Italy for six weeks, but I still wanted them to somehow make it work.
The ending was my favourite part and left me in tears. It was so simple yet said so much and I could really see Elio’s emotions. It simply was just a perfect romance film and you should definitely watch it.
Publication Date: 23 January 2007
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
The writing in Call Me By Your Name kind of read like a diary. The dialogue was almost scarce and the readers got slabs of text about Elio’s infatuation with Oliver and his surroundings in Italy. It was very well-written but perhaps to descriptive and flowery at times.
I was completely addicted to reading this book. Because I loved the film so much, I had high expectations for the book. While reading, I was not let down. About three quarters to the end, I was starting to compare the book to the film, which made me realise that I really did prefer the film. Although this was the case, they are different mediums and are both great in their own way. The book tells you more, whereas the film doesn’t really need to.
The characters acted slightly differently in the book. I thought that Elio was a little harsher and seemed less sure of himself. I also thought that they were more in love in the film than in the book. They hardly seemed to talk much in the beginning of the book, which made it seem like they weren’t even that into each other.
There was a scene in the book (that was not in the movie) that I personally thought was difficult (i.e. boring) to get through. It just seemed out of place. It was when Elio and Oliver were on their trip to Rome and spent some time with the group from the bookstore. I could not get into the lady’s story and the whole thing felt really random. I thought that the movie handled the Rome trip in a more romanticised way, as this was their last few days in Italy together and should have been spent together.
One thing I loved about the book was the conversation that Elio had with his father in the end. Their relationship with each other was really sweet. The father in general just seemed like a great guy, and his profession and house made the setting really stand out. Elio had a great family and even though the readers don’t really learn that much about his life, it seemed as though he had it pretty good.
The ending to the book differed to the ending in the film. This ending shared more of Elio and Oliver over the years. However, I did read that the director is thinking about a sequel, so it is possible that the next film will include these forgotten scenes. Like the film’s ending, I liked the ending in the book. The last sentence was very sweet and made me remember how much I adored the film.
I would recommend reading the book after watching the film and only bother if you really loved it. I definitely preferred the film to the book. The characters appeared less mean and overall it was just shot really well.
Have you seen or read Call Me By Your Name?