The acclaimed director opened up about his future plans for the year’s most talked-about love story.
We often hear of blockbuster diving deep into sequel potential. Everyone wants to build a cinematic universe these days, but here’s an actual well-deserved indie proposal to throw that formula askew. Call Me By Your Name has been one of the year’s most consistent festival darlings, performing excellently ahead of a wider domestic release in November. Recently, at the BFI London Film Festival, director Luca Guadagnino discussed his plans for a Call Me By Your Name follow-up.
“I want to do a sequel because Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel – they are all gems. The texture we built together is very consistent. We created a place in which you believe in the world before them. They are young but they are growing up.”
Call Me By Your Name is based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman. Set in the 1980s, it is the coming-of-age story of 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Chalamet). A handsome scholar — 24-year-old Oliver (Hammer) — joins Elio and his family in their villa in Italy for a summer. The two men fall in love soon enough, engaging in a passionate, life-changing relationship.
For our part, FSR was especially impressed with Call Me By Your Name when it screened at Sundance. Rob Hunter has nothing but praise for the film’s ability to tenderly indulge in passion and reminiscence, and its deftness at portraying the longing of a teenager discovering first love. The audience joins the protagonists on this hazy romantic trip, too, taking in the beauty of the Italian countryside and the beauty of these characters in aesthetic and personality. It is very much like one extended, intoxicating holiday: “Elio and Oliver don’t want the summer to end, we hope the film can go on indefinitely, and none of us will forget how lucky we are to have shared this experience.”
Guadagnino’s plans for a sequel are solid enough to have a preferred release date — 2020 when the actors are a little older and fitting perfectly into the timeline of a possible ‘later’ with Elio and Oliver. Aciman’s novel has a portion set 15 years later when the characters meet again, although Guadagnino has remained mum over whether fans of the book should be on the lookout for an exact adaptation of it. “If I paired the age of Elio in the film with the age of Timothée, in three years’ time Timothée will be 25 as would Elio by the time the second story was set,” the director said at LFF.
It seems like Guadagnino is also looking for the story to make sense within the timeline of his adaptation. The summer storyline in Aciman’s novel takes place in 1988, but Guadagnino’s version shifts the series of events to play out in 1983. The bookend of time is a rather significant feature in Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name: 1983 being a closer year to the beginning of a consciousness about AIDS, and the 1990s going on to mean other world-altering events. There’s a sense of a wider narrative outside the focus on the love between Elio and Oliver, which certainly lends to the film’s textural depth:
“It is the time of the fall of communism and the start of the new world order and the so-called ’The End of History’ that Francis Fukuyama established then. It would be the beginning of the Berlusconi era in Italy and it would mean dealing with the war of Iraq.”
In terms of the characters themselves, Guadagnino is quick to point out that he doesn’t think Elio will be a gay man in the sequel because nothing about his identity is necessarily set in stone: “He hasn’t found his place yet. I can tell you that I believe that he would start an intense relationship with Marzia [Esther Garrel’s character] again.” Guadagnino has also championed Elio and Oliver’s relationship to potentially be a bisexual one instead. It happened during the Call Me By Your Name press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. Here’s the video of it below. It’s a long (but very fulfilling and insightful) watch, and the moment occurs around 29 minutes in:
Above all, Guadagnino loves the character of Elio Perlman so much that he would love to continue bringing him to life onscreen, comparing it to François Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel. If Guadagnino’s intentions of a Call Me By Your Name sequel become a reality and does well enough, that could really transform this little film of summer love into a “cinematic universe” of its own type, to use today’s parlance. Call Me By Your Name would definitely be more in the vein of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy than Marvel’s blockbuster successes, but absolutely one that we wouldn’t mind returning to in the years to come.