"Sickly Sweet: A Call Me By Your Name Diary" (excerpt one) by Saffron Maeve

August 9, 2018

I was nervous about publishing this in such a public manner; all of my emotions and vulnerability exposed for anyone to see. But then I had to ask myself: is it better to speak or die?

DECEMBER 23, 2017

My first viewing. I sobbed uncontrollably. I went to my favourite restaurant afterwards; its typically busy pace felt lackadaisical and lethargic. Everything did. The train ride home felt different – I wish I could articulate it but I can’t. The following passages are my attempts.

I'd like to preface this by saying how I came about watching the film. I had the opportunity to see it in September at TIFF, however, my plans fell through and it never happened. For the last three months, I have regretted that day and decision immensely. Looking back, I wholeheartedly think it was one of my best. Three months ago, Call Me By Your Name was just a movie. A beautiful love story with a lush, Italian backdrop. Now, it is so much more. The build up to see this film was almost painful. Its official release date in Canada was yesterday, over two months after most countries. Since September, I have been learning the technicalities of the film (and enhancing my knowledge of film as a whole) as well as crying daily to Sufjan's songs. I needed to see this film more than I thought I could ever desire to. And let me just say, it did not fall short of my soaring expectations.

I was lucky enough to see Call Me By Your Name at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in the heart of Toronto. This was a huge deal for me as I have never been there. It was beautiful - stores full of film paraphernalia and walls covered in classic posters. I felt like I was home. My friend and I got to the theatre about 45 minutes early and took our seats. Simply sitting there waiting felt amazing; 45 minutes felt like a dream after waiting months. When the lights dimmed and the opening credits came on, tears had already started to form in my eyes. Watching this film felt like coming home after a long trip; so familiar but entirely new at the same time.  It also felt like drowning. Like being submerged in everything and being too afraid to breathe out. The feeling of peaceful sinking.

I can not stress enough that Call Me By Your Name is a triumph. A sensual, captivating, sublime heaven. The cinematography was unbelievable - a lush countryside, stunning villa, and endless neoclassical buildings. Every second was mesmerizing. Atop of all of the pleasing visuals, the acting was beautiful. While I am obviously super biased in favour of Timothée Chalamet, I was still blown away. He was the perfect embodiment of Elio. I hope more than anything that he receives an Academy Award for this role. However, the performance that affected me physically the most was Michael Stuhlbarg's. I cried four times during the film: when the first few notes of “Visions of Gideon” began playing in Elio's bedroom, when Elio watches the train pull away from the station, when Elio cries in front of the fireplace, and finally, during Mr. Perlman's speech. That monologue made me shake with tears. A father validating his son's feelings, acknowledging a remarkable bond between two men, and reaffirming his unconditional affection. This performance, alone, deserves an Academy Award. Brilliant.

I have never been in love. I have never yearned for someone the way that Elio yearns for Oliver. However, I felt Elio's pain as though it was happening to me. When the train pulled out of the station and Elio calls his mother, I felt a lump in my throat. During the fireplace scene, I felt an ache in my chest and a throbbing migraine. This film made me experience the loss of someone I never knew. This, to me, is impeccable filmmaking. This also speaks to Timothée and Armie's chemistry. I was astounded by the sheer passion that the two shared. From their evocative looks and ardent kisses to Oliver holding Elio after the peach scene to, what I deem to be, the most intimate act - when Oliver tells Elio "Call me by your name and I'll call you by mine". A phrase more powerful than "I love you"; the idea that you belong to one another, that you are so close that you become the other person. A bond that transcends identity.

I have always loved Sufjan Stevens and this film just reaffirmed that. "Mystery of Love" and "Visions of Gideon" are absolute masterpieces and are no doubt my two favourite songs. Just hearing the opening notes brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. The sheer symbolism within the songs and their perfect fit into the film are noteworthy. The repetitive "Is it a video?" references Elio's memories of Oliver as he wonders what of his memories are real and what he may have manufactured. The idea of a fleeting memory, a summer (I remember everything). In “Mystery of Love,” Sufjan sings "The first time that you touched/kissed me" and in “Visions of Gideon,” he sings "I have touched/kissed you for the last time". Each song represents a different part of Oliver and Elio's relationship.

I apologize, I realize this review has been all over the place and I can't seem to keep any of my ideas together. The movie ended 6 hours ago and I still feel emotionally distraught. Perhaps this feeling is everlasting since I can't seem to shake it, and I don't really mind. I hope so badly that Call Me By Your Name earns awards this season, I truly believe it deserves them. Thank you so much to everyone affiliated with this project; it was immaculate.

 “If you remember everything and if you are really like me, then before you leave tomorrow, or when you’re just ready to shut the door of the taxi and have already said goodbye to everyone else and there’s not a thing left to say in this life, then, just this once, turn to me, even in jest, or as an afterthought, which would have meant everything to me when we were together, and as you did back then, look me in the face, hold my gaze, and call me by your name.”

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