Our writers pick their favourite scenes from the second half of Call Me by Your Name and write about what makes them great. Read part 1 here. This is the fifth piece in our Special Issue on Call Me by Your Name. Read the rest of the issue here.
On Tuesday, we published a group of six analyses of our favourite scenes from the first half of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name. We’re back again with part 2, featuring five dissections of key moments in the film’s second half (ordered chronologically), during which Elio’s (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver’s (Armie Hammer) relationship is consummated, and then begins to deepen.
1. “I’m glad you came.”
Elio and Oliver spend the first half of Call Me by Your Name dancing around each other’s desires. They want each other, but they are both too scared of rejection to act. Elio confesses his feelings first, but it takes Oliver a while to let go of his inhibitions and make a move of his own — he leaves a note on Elio’s desk: “Grow up. I’ll see you at midnight.” When midnight arrives, they navigate their newly granted permission to explore each other’s bodies in a scene that is at turns awkward, intimate, sexy, funny, and sweet.
Guadagnino does not give his characters an easy escape from confronting their fears. When the pair enter Oliver’s room, Elio admits he’s nervous; the shy, wordless smile that Oliver gives him in response tells us that he is, too. As they work out how to begin touching each other, Guadagnino refuses to cut away to a different angle. Everything plays out in a wide shot that leaves no room for Elio and Oliver to hide: we see every uncertain shift in their bodies, and their every failed attempt to move closer.'They navigate their newly granted permission to explore each other’s bodies in a scene that is at turns awkward, intimate, sexy, funny, and sweet.'Click To Tweet
Weeks of longing for each other held a certain agonising pleasure; they could imagine how it would feel to be intimate with one another without having to put in the work needed to achieve that intimacy. Now, they are no longer imagining, and it is painfully awkward for them (and for us) to have that process slowly drawn out over the course of a long sequence. Elio cannot take it and eventually bites the bullet: throwing himself at Oliver, he closes the gap between them all at once. He collapses into his lover, hugs him, and climbs his six-foot-five frame. Oliver laughs; the distance between them has finally collapsed.
I look back on this scene in much the same way that I imagine Elio — days, weeks, months, years later — will look back on it: it’s the small, unexpected moments that stick out the most. When Elio first starts desiring Oliver, he is attracted to him as a physical object. He wants the sexual gratification of being with Oliver. But as the beautiful stranger gradually reveals his own vulnerabilities, their desire for each other becomes the desire to be with that person, rather than simply a desire to have his body.
We do not see Elio and Oliver in the act of lovemaking, but nothing could be more intimate than their shared giddy laughter as they accidentally slam the bedroom door shut and fear jolting Elio’s parents awake. United as an ‘us’, they share a secret that they wish to keep from the rest of the world. Nothing could be sweeter than Oliver’s concerned whisper: “Does this make you happy?” — a simple question which reveals that his interest in Elio runs deeper than any sexual desires of his own. Nothing could be sexier than the gentle, teasing touch of Elio’s foot on top of Oliver’s, exploring his lover’s body, and Oliver doing the same. – Orla Smith
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The extended close-up of Isabelle Huppert in Louder Than Bombs is as memorable and haunting as the final scene of Call Me by Your Name. We talked to director Joachim Trier about the importance of that close-up. Meanwhile, God’s Own Country director Francis Lee told us about his obsession with hands and how much they communicate — echoing when Oliver and Elio meet on the balcony that night. When it comes to Movie Dads We All Wish We Had, Gabriel Byrne was cornering the market pre-CMBYN, first as the sensitive patriarch in Louder Than Bombs and then as the loving father in Carrie Pilby.