“Call Me by Your Name,” directed by Luca Guadagnino, is a gorgeous film set in Northern Italy during the summer of 1983. It is a story about 17-year-old Elio Perlman and the love that grows between him and his father’s doctoral student, Oliver. It is a film based on the novel of the same name, that is very obviously a love story. But, it proves to be so much more as it reflects upon universal themes of longing, tenderness and unapologetic love. From its adapted screenplay to its cinematography, this film is a delicate yet colorful portrait of an Italian summer in the ’80s filled with desire, love and spontaneity.
Upon watching this movie, I knew I wanted to write about its brilliance and rave about its beauty. However, I do not trust myself not to spend the next hundred+ words just babbling and gushing about how pretty it was and how much it “meant” to me… eew. So what I’ll do instead is talk about the film’s gorgeous, beautiful, never done before, spectacular soundtrack. If there’s anything I am unapologetically confident about it is my love for music, and this soundtrack blew me away. So, I need all of you to be blown away as well.
The soundtrack is comprised of 17 songs by various artists and it was curated by the film’s director, Luca Guadagnino, film editor, Walter Fasano, and music supervisor Robin Urdang. The three types of songs that make up the album are classical piano tunes, ’80s hits and heavenly indie folk by the angelic songwriter Sufjan Stevens. The eclectic mix of songs seems like an unfortunate pairing at first listen, but in the end the soundtrack is a mixtape which explores the depth of sorrow and joy.
The classical songs by Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Adams and Valeria Szervanszky set a playful tone that can be felt throughout the entire film. Songs like “Hallejuah Junction,” “Sonatine Bureaucratique” and “Le jardin féerique” have an air of sophistication that I thought would clash with the pop heavy sounds of ’80s classics such as “Paris Latino” and “Words.” Funnily enough, when played together the two types of music evoke feelings of youth and curiosity, leaving me simultaneously excited and pensive. My favorite classical song on the soundtrack is “Une Barque sur l’Ocean” from Andre Laplante because it makes me feel like I am living within a Monet painting, but also because it goes so well with the sensual delicacy of the film’s cinematography. The songs on the soundtrack by The Psychedelic Furs, Bandolero and F.R. David are perfect given their power to immediately transport you to the ’80s. They give you the urge to dance and to have someone dance with you.
What brings this entire soundtrack together and makes it the beautiful masterpiece that it is, is the three Sufjan Steven songs “Mystery of Love,” “Futile Devices” and “Visions of Gideon.” Lucas Guadagnino approached Stevens to write a song inspired by the story. Stevens used the script and the novel to write Oscar nominated “Mystery of Love,” and my personal favorite “Visions of Gideon.” I know I am entering the zone of hyperbole here, but bare with me because these songs really are the epitome of sentiment and the true expression of what it is to be beloved. They are the perfect close to a soundtrack that goes through all the emotional highs and lows. They remind me what it is to be smitten and filled to the brim with romantic fuzziness, but at the same time they take me to tear inducing heartbreak and moments of soulful sorrow.
If you have not seen the film, I very very highly recommend it! If not for the soundtrack, or the cinematography or whatever artsy shpeel, at least do it to fall in love with the gorgeous Timothee Chalamet.