BONUS: The Intimacy of Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name”

Timothée Chalamet

“I remember everything.” is how Elio describes his sexual awakening summer romance with Oliver.

I wish he was the only one who remembers everything because I haven’t thought about any other movie since I saw Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film, Call Me By Your Name. I remember everything. For the longest time it felt like I never could truly properly write about this movie because it was simply hard to explain how personal it felt to me. Every kiss, every movement, every laugh, every dance, every look, goodbye, embrace. If I could talk about them, I would. But I couldn’t even begin. I didn’t know where to start.

Call Me By Your Name is innocent and raw. It’s a story on the journey of falling in love in your youth, and also the heart-aching grief and desolation that comes with getting your heart broken for the first time. Elio’s summer romance felt so personal that you feel connected with him as he contemplates back and forth his attraction towards Oliver. He also takes you with him as he grapples with his feelings until the final moment that he gets his heart painstakingly shattered. The final scene in which he eventually comes to terms with his emotions and breaks down so honestly in front of us, has got to be one of the best ever and raw-est depiction of emotion in cinema ever. It was Timothée Chalamet’s performance that makes it so heartbreakingly beautiful, but the subtle direction and the powerful scoring contribute greatly as well.

The script is so honest and so pure that it never felt forced or artificial. It’s completely candid and sensitive and tender all at the same time. The script’s “nakedness” is what makes it so astonishingly true-to-life because it parallels with how unembellished first love is. The whole story successfully unlocked my deepest memories of my first love and managed to weave Elio’s story with mine creating this sentimentality as if the movie is mine.

The two characters were far from perfect, but they were real. The movie was never about homosexuality (which people mistake it for), rather, it’s the opposite ingraining in its audience that homosexuality is so similar to normal love that it shouldn’t be treated as a big deal, because it’s normal. Elio and Oliver’s love story is simply just love. It’s not trying to make a statement or any social commentary. It is simply being. Their love is not set apart from other kinds of love. And the fact that this movie connects with the audience despite their sexual orientations and beliefs simply proves it.

In fact, everything that happens in the movie are so simple that it has the ability to connect with anyone. The characters engage in simple conversations, mundane tasks, and day-to-day nothingness. I haven’t seen this kind of intimacy of a film with the customary since Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight), and those films are my absolute favorite! So the fact that Call Me By Your Name was able to incorporate the same kind of theme is probably why I enjoyed it a lot. By the time the two characters were climbing up that mountain and Sufjan Stevens’s ‘Mystery of Love’ was playing, I knew that the deal was sealed. I had fallen in love with the film.

Not My Cup of Coffee (Bonus Paper)

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Oh Boy or A Coffee in Berlin is a German film in 2012. I believe it was a depressing film, as almost every character in the film has an unfortunate story to tell. The color of the film was mainly black and white. I thought it suited the movie well, given that it was gloomy. The main character, Niko, for instance, is experiencing a tragedy. He drops out of law school as he is trying to discover himself. It is worth noting how his father is not proud of what he is done.

The movie revolves around Niko, as he tries to drink a coffee. All throughout the movie, he tries to drink a cup of coffee, however it seems that he never gets to drink one until the end of the movie. Throughout the movie, I felt like I was listening to various stories by individuals who are suffering from past traumas or hardships. One of which is Julika, who is an old friend of Niko. She used to be bullied for being fat. She also reveals that they never continued to be classmates in school because she was moved by parents to an education for having an overexcitement condition. Another story that I found depressing was his neighbor who wanted a child but couldn’t have one. Eventually, the situation got worse when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. As a result, he is left depressed. 

The movie also does not spare the main character. I felt that he was also quite unfortunate, as seen in what he experiences in the movie. From the very start of the movie, he already experiences an obstacle. Aside from the fact that he never gets his cup of coffee, he is also dealing with personal matters. He dropped out of law school, as he felt that he needed to find himself and law school did not seem to fit him. 

For the plot, the movie does not seem to focus much on other characters except Niko, as every character he meets has no relationship with the rest that he meets. In other words, there is not much connections between each person he meets. In typical Hollywood movies, main characters usually go on a journey and there is a significance in every scene that contributes to the buildup of the movie. 

In terms of the ending, like the European films we watched, it shows an ending that has no dialogue but is revealed through an action that implies a form of closure. In this film, Oh Boy shows the various scenery of the city such as factories, traffic, and many more then it ends with Niko finally drinking a cup of coffee that he has requested from the very start of the movie. 

Overall, it was a movie that was not happy. It certainly possesses a depressing mood. Although Niko finally gets his cup of coffee, he meets various people along the way such as strangers and people from his past that are suffering various hardships as he himself as well is left to deal with personal matters.

Comedy With a Little Adventure (Bonus paper)

Mr. Bean’s Holiday was a film that had a lot of humor and a sense of adventure. It is not really similar to the comedy films of America such as American Pie, Blockers, Central Intelligence, or Bad Moms. This is because Mr. Bean’s Holiday does not really show its main character speaking fluently or being understood. The comedy in this film was not hinged on the words that come out of the main character but rather it relied on the unfortunate events and laughable behavior of Mr. Bean. An instance of this is how he wasn’t able to catch his train due to the fact that his tie got stuck in the vending machine, when he inserted his bill that was stored in his necktie. On the other hand, American films would usually generate the comedic feel from a dialogue between characters or punch lines. The main character, Mr. Bean never really says any punch line although it is worth noting how his expressions also contribute to the comedic element of the movie.

Another element that gives Mr. Bean’s Holiday a comedic feel is his mischievous behavior. Common in most comedic movies, including US films, there is always a naughty side of its characters that make the overall movie funny. What differs is that US movies tend to make jokes that could be linked with sex, drugs, or drinking. In Mr. Bean’s Holiday, his behavior is far from any of those vices but rather it is very childish. One instance of this is how he calls every possible phone numbers which the father of Stephan was showing through the window however the last two digits were blocked by his fingers. While calling each number, he is oblivious to how his phone call affects the people in the other end of the line. Another instance is how he did not like the oyster served to him as it was still alive so he places all of it in a woman’s bag. Lastly, he also dresses as Sabine’s grandmother as a disguise during the premiere of the movie of Sabine and eventually disrupts the whole thing altogether. 

Aside from the comedic feel, another thing that struck me was how Mr. Bean’s Holiday gives an adventure feel because of the sceneries and the shots that it shows. It is as if it is marketing the beauty of Cannes or Europe in general. An instance of this is how Mr. Bean hikes a mountain or when he sees a Cannes photo there is a background music that conveys heavenly. It also shows scenic shots when Mr. Bean travels with Sabine and Stephan in his classic Mini Cooper. The movie allows its audience to travel with Mr. Bean, especially when there are shots of the film that use his camcorder, which he won from the raffle as well. Adventure films from the US are usually about a world that is fictional or alien such as Journey 2, Avatar, or Kong: Skull Island. 

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It was really funny as it showed the classic behavior of Mr. Bean. The additional characters also contributed to the film, as they surprisingly successfully deal with his mischievous behavior.

Epic Failures (Bonus Paper)

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Epic Fail, those are the words that describe the character of Johnny English. I really enjoyed the first of the three Johnny English movies because of the comedy that it brings. What really kept me watching was the string of failures that English experiences because of his overconfidence. He is very much excited to be a secret agent finally on the field but at the same time, he is overconfident despite his lack of experience. To a certain extent, there was a James Bond vibe to it, given that there are guns, luxurious sports cars, and a woman with action. However what makes it different is that English isn’t successful in executing the suave that James Bond brings. An instance of this is how Johnny was never really able to use his gun as the parts were messily assembled or had feces inside the barrel that did not allow him to fire a bullet. 

For an action film, this is very much different from American action movies. First, Johnny English does not show a lot of fighting scenes. In fact, it only teases them. The kicks and punches were countable and it is worth noting that the main character does not even do the heavy lifting. Also, gun shots were very limited, and when you start to expect them they don’t really come through especially when it came to the main character. Furthermore for an action film, there is really no killing scene and only implies it as it only shows an explosion where multiple agents were killed. Unlike in American films, killing scenes are made explicit enough to add a dramatic effect. Some American movies that come to mind in terms of action are Mission Impossible, Taken, or Die Hard. These movies show how the main characters prevail adversity with their skills as they convince the audience to see them as a legitimate hero that will become victorious. 

Johnny English shows the very opposite as he does not bring the typical hero effect. In fact, he is the last guy you would ever think of when it comes to saving the country or the world. To a certain extent, it makes the audience wonder how a guy like him would prevail in the end, especially with the presence of his overconfidence that is a main flaw that is rooted in his string of failures. Because of this, one would even think that the antagonist is even more skilled. However, English would be lucky and something out of his control allows him to be the hero, which will be discussed later on. This is different from American movies because the protagonists become victorious because of their abilities and smarts. 

I really enjoyed the laughter that Johnny English brings, especially when his overconfidence and unintentional acts affect the people around him. From the part where he clicks the pen and accidentally shoots the secretary unconscious to breaking in a hospital and threatening the doctors, patients, and nurses thinking they were all working for Savage or the part where he interferes a funeral, thinking it was all a setup as he walks on top of a casket.The funniest among them all is when he reveals the Archbishop’s buttocks to the entire nation, thinking that this one was an imposter. It seemed like Johnny English would never learn that he should tone down his confidence. 

Even though Johnny English faces a string of failures, the movie does not end with his demise. He actually becomes successful as it seemed like Lady Luck was on his side. For me, English is a guy who’s way of thinking is detached from reality. One instance of this was when he and Lorna, another agent, was imprisoned. English thought that a way to escape was blowing through the locked door knob, which was ridiculous and unrealistic. Because of this, some force out of his control has to save him. In this case, it was his loyal partner Bough who frees Johnny and Lorna. In the concluding scene of the movie, Johnny also gets saved as he daringly used the rope to swing in order to grab the crown of Savage, which ticks of the latter and reveals his evilness to the public. Johnny gets tangled and unintentionally drops to Savage and was crowned King, which was a shock to the crowd. Because of this, English had Savage arrested and the movie ended on a bright note. 

Overall, it is a movie that I really loved. Not only because it was Rowan Atkinson, but the character that he plays and the plot of the movie where it really showed the true character of Johnny English. It is like you can anticipate the failures he is about to face and then just appreciate the effects of his epic failures. 

Marathon of Outcomes (Bonus paper)

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Run Lola Run, was a German film marathon of different outcomes. For me, I believe I could compare this to other movies where the plot is not really similarly structured as Hollywood movies. The movie does not give the answers to the background of the characters. At the same a lot of things were not really explained in the movie. For instance, when Lola the main character runs by a couple of people who do not really make an impact in the movie somehow get a segment where snippets of their future are shown. The most important aspect of all I believe is how Lola is able to go back in time or even resurrect in order to go through the same situation again. For me, it was the most important because it is how the movie keeps on progressing. I could very much relate to the movies we have watched such as L’avventura where you do not really get the answers you were expecting. In the latter, the question we were expecting to be answered was what happened to Anna. 

Another segment that caught my attention was how they used a running segment in the form of cartoons. It kind of reminded me of films such as Lizzie McGuire or Enchanted. For me, it gave a whimsical feeling and saw it as quite fictional as the world of animation and cartoons comes together with live action. 

In terms of the introduction, I actually felt like the movie was like a game. The characters were shown with their faces in boxes like a video game. In a sense, the movie was like this. This is because every time a character dies, somehow the whole movie allows its characters to restart the whole movie again. Like in a game, when your main player dies, the whole game restarts again. In the movie, at first Lola dies when she gets unintentionally shot by the police after they did a holdup in the supermarket. She resurrects and starts all over. Lola escapes the hands of the police as they never suspected she was the holdup-per in the bank. Unfortunately her boyfriend, Mannie, dies due to a collision with an ambulance. Lola only gets it right the third time wherein she plays in a casino as Lady Luck was on her side. However in the end, it wasn’t needed as Mannie finds the man who got the bag of 100,000 marks. Like a usual game, she had three lives. I thought she also had like special skills similar to a character in a game, she had the ability to run and to scream. 

I also liked the part where she goes through various adversities and tries to overcome them. An obstacle that I believe that really rattled her was when her “father” revealed to her the truth that he is not the real father and he has the desire to leave he family for a new mistress, who is his coworker as well. 

Overall, it was a movie that had a lot of thrill. What kept me watching was how is she gonna get 100,000 marks in 20 minutes. Even though the money was not needed in the end, I thought it was entertaining to see whether she was going to get it or not.