Call Me By Your Name – Film vs. Book

I usually do not write about these kinds of films or books for that matter, but from the moment I encountered this adventure, who will most likely not appeal to everyone, I knew I wanted to write about it.

“Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot.”

There is something inexplicably magical and out of time when it comes to “Call Me By Your Name” that is rarely found in movies these days.

It is so rare in fact, that it is able to suppress the source material, which by its own merits, unique and raw.

I have watched the film for the first time out of curiosity and a life-long fetish for gay stories, yet never expected to be invited into a world of living art that resembles the feeling of stepping into an old oil-colored painting.

Yet something about the film left me restless and a bit unsatisfied, I had shed my tears and fell in love with the two beautiful boys who dared to love each other, but I kept wanting to know more, to get answers for the questions circling in my mind.

I decided to buy the book in order to fill the holes that were created within me and to my great disdain, it was not what I had expected it to be.

I love books, which is sadly uncommon these days, with ADD and ADHD and the internet, so many passes on that beautiful experience of books, but I adore them, as they have the ability to tell a story far wider than a movie or even a series of them ever could, but I’m also an extremely visual person and find great satisfaction in experiencing movie magic.

In 99% of the time the film version of an adapted book pales in comparison to the original written words, however, in this case, there is an oddity – as the book takes a second place (at least in my humble opinion) to that grandiose escapism that was created by Luca Guadagnino and brought to life with a picture-perfect casting of Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, and Michael Stuhlbarg.

While reading the book I often found myself lost by not being able to tell between reality and the fantasy inside Elio’s cloudy and confused thoughts as they were written in a chaotic inconsistent manner.

Perhaps that was the intention of author Andre Aciman, as he set the readers on the journey of swimming through the waves of thoughts, feelings, and experiences of Elio’s diary-like confessions of his love, lust, and love for the visitors in his life.

Though it may seem like a long love letter to that one named Oliver, Elio’s story is much more complex than just a young teenager discovering himself over the course of one summer in Italy.

No, Elio’s character is being told in constant dualism in every aspect of life. He lusts for both men and women, he seeks the acceptance and love of all and tries to swallow life in a constant chase of art and beauty.

The book describes sexuality and in such fluidity, that you find yourself envying all those whom which are able to love and lust in such freedom and wonder, now – in 2018, did we move forward or backward in accepting those who will not bind themselves into labels in society?

Despite the beauty in that chaos, I found myself dissatisfied with the incoherent writing, lack of proper editing or the way it was purposely chosen to be edited so it will seem raw and untouched, falling into sentences traps that forced me to re-read the whole paragraph and sometimes even the whole page again, just to understand what is, in fact going on, at that moment in the story.

When I finally reached that part of the book that was unknown to me, as it did not exist in the film, I was disappointed. So much in the book’s appeal was found in its avoidance of clean cuts and in the case of the Elio-Oliver love-of-the-ages romance, it was better to be left untouched.

Knowing what happened next, in the future, so many years after, only spoiled their story in my eyes. This was my greatest criticism towards the book, it lacked the dream-like atmosphere that dominated the film.

The story that was told in those chaotic pages, was like a kick to the stomach, too raw, too visceral, too painful and too real. The thing I was missing the most was the escapism.

In the book Elio was filled with regret and self-hatred after each encounter with Oliver, even in their best of moments, he refused to accept who he was while all along caring the same blame towards Oliver who knew exactly who he was, but did not have the courage to live his life the way he truly wanted to.

Elio, the bi-sexual, received full support and understanding from his family and friends and loved others from afar, while Oliver, who was most likely “fully gay” or at least with a strong preference to men, had to bury his shame in women and hide his desire under the pretense of normality out of fear of being disowned or worse.

I nearly got sick when I read the regret in Elio’s mind, I was filled with anger and sorrow for poor Oliver who only pretends indifference out of fear and most likely past experiences who left him bruised and broken.

The closing segment of the book took us over a brisk flight to the future: a year after, few years after, 15 years after, 20 years after and all of them only left a bitter taste in my mouth. No doubt, some stories should have ended without ending at all. Let us decide for ourselves how this story should go on or end.

With a lump in my throat, I sat the next day and re-watched the film, this time I enjoyed it far more as I already knew all of its secrets and preferred the small alterations that were made.

Yes, even in the film the characters presented their uncertainties and insecurities but the story followed a rhythm and logic that I was sorely missing in the book.

In a picturesque out-of-time manner, “Call Me By Your Name” told a story that could only have existed in that specific place and time without having to suffer the noise of the outside world.

With the film about to end, after Elio’s father poetic advice and heartbreaking confession, the closing scene in which Elio sits by the fire and cry for the true ending of his relationship with Oliver, I too, cried, yet again, as this was the perfect ending to that life-changing love story.

Now, after experiencing the story 3 times, each in a different way, I find myself praying that the production will dismiss the idea of a sequel, despite its international success, so that this story could stay untouched and free.

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