In Call Me by Your Name, Luca Guadagnino uses framing and editing to expand and contract time, allowing us to experience it in the same way that Elio and Oliver do. This is the seventh piece in our Special Issue on Call Me by Your Name. Buy the eBook of the issue here. Read the rest of the issue here.
It’s the summer of 1983, somewhere in the north of Italy. After weeks of flirtation and romance, 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer) and 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) are savouring their last night together in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name. They are locked in a passionate embrace, but Oliver pulls away when he hears the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” playing in a nearby street. “You’re missing it!” he cries, running off to find the source of the music, hands in the air with excitement, expecting Elio to follow lest he miss the song entirely — a song that played a crucial role in their courtship.
Oliver’s playful admonition could just as easily refer to Elio’s attitude throughout the film. First, Elio misreads and thus misses Oliver’s multiple advances. Even once their relationship begins, Elio is in such a hurry to act on his newfound desire that he dives headfirst into it, never pausing to fully relish the experience. For Elio, it’s first love; he knows intellectually that it has to end, but he doesn’t feel that it will, the way Oliver already does. This isn’t Oliver’s first rodeo, even if it is perhaps his first connection this deep, so he is careful to enjoy every minute of it.
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Call Me by Your Name made our list of the Best Editing of 2017, where we discussed all the other reasons the editing is so terrific. We’ve written about how important the editing is to storytelling in Personal Shopper, where it puts us in the headspace of the depressed protagonist who is constantly losing time. We’ve since interviewed several film editors about what goes into the process, including Joe Bini on You Were Never Really Here and Jonathan Alberts about Lean on Pete.