Soft blue shirts, ripe peaches, rustling sheet music, urgent kisses.
When Call Me By Your Name was released in 2017, people fell in love with not just the story, but with the very fabric of the filmmaking. Eschewing the frigidity of Hollywood cinema and winning legions of fans perhaps not used to slower cinema, the world fell for the charms of Elio and his story. But the film isn’t without its influences: these six films all in some way share characteristics with Luca Guadagnino’s Oscar-winning masterpiece, whether that’s tender gay romance, lush scenery, a coming-of-age plot or exquisite production design. If you want to satiate your need for a similar film, these picks are a great place to start.
Stealing Beauty (1996) dir. Bernardo Bertolucci
Oh, to spend your summer falling in love in the Italian countryside. Both Call Me By Your Name and Stealing Beauty centre on American teenagers holidaying in idyllic locations in rural Italy, experiencing some kind of sexual awakening. Stealing Beauty features heterosexual romance, however, with Lucy Harmon (Liv Tyler) looking for the local boy she met four summers ago. As with many of Bertolucci’s films, there’s a fair bit of strange male-gaze stuff going on here, with many of the male characters lusting after the protagonist. But with the cons come many pros: a carefree, taboo-less depiction of resolutely European sensuality, and a refusal to apologise for that. A mood that seeps into you.
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Maurice (1987) dir. James Ivory
With James Ivory winning an Academy Award for Call Me By Your Name’s screenplay, it’s no surprise that it feels influenced by his own 1987 film Maurice. Hugh Grant is our ingenu with Byronic locks and caddish charm here, attracting the lust of James Wilby’s titular character. There are similarities between the characters in Maurice and Call Me By Your Name in terms of class and comfortable wealth, but Elio possesses the privilege of acceptance; in Maurice, the setting of Edwardian England and the punition of homosexuality casts a dark cloud over the romance. It’s clear that both films are the work of James Ivory, though; exquisite production design, a progressive attitude to the human form and plenty of sensual hand-brushes.
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Purple Noon (1960) dir. René Clément
There’s something about Alan Deloin and Timothée Chalamet that’s remarkably similar. The boyish faces with bright eyes and angular jaws; the youthful insouciance; the Gallic cool. Watching both men framed by Italian summertime and luxuriating in the small pleasures that go with it—sunbathing languidly, dragging on a cigarette, alfresco dining—is a cinematic treat. That’s perhaps where the similarities end: whereas Call Me By Your Name fouses on romance, Purple Noon’s protagonist Tom Ripley wears his angel face as a disguise to con, murder and wreak havoc.
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Partie de campagne (1936) dir. Jean Renoir
Guadagnino openly confessed to having been influenced by Renoir’s unfinished ditty to romance, regret and the beauty of the countryside when he was making Call Me By Your Name. Filmed during one of the rainiest summers on record, Partie de campagne was forced to abandon its shoot and only 38 minutes of footage remains. But its ties to Call Me By Your Name, visually, are clear: both narratives depict blissful romance set among verdant grass and shaded trees, and both are chiefly concerned with holding on to a moment of true passion, even if its memory only causes pain.
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La Collectionneuse (1967) dir. Éric Rohmer
In an idyllic house on the Côte d’Azur, Adrien’s desire for a relaxing holiday is interrupted by the appearance of Haydée, a young beauty with a freewheeling attitude to sexuality. Just like Elio’s initial suspicion of Oliver, Adrien at first finds faults in her perceived transgressions—though his haircut is more ‘Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men’ than Timmy’s curls—before questioning his feelings for her. Haydée Politoff’s luminous performance and the sumptuous production design make this a visual treat, and the subtle takedown of French intellectual dandyism is glorious. Luca Guadagnino’s take on the languorous passion of summertime is inspired by the films of Éric Rohmer, and watching La Collectionneuse is proof of that—although the protagonist in Rohmer’s Le Rayon vert is perhaps more like Elio, with the audience constantly trying to figure out her inner anxieties.
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Stranger by the Lake (2017) dir. Alain Guiraudie
Tonally, Stranger by the Lake is utterly different to Call Me By Your Name. The former involves a serial killer wreaking havoc at a gay cruising spot, while the latter is more of a straightforward romance. But what ties them together, alongside the gentle naturalism of the filmmaking and screenplay, is the intertwined depiction of nudity, nature and gay identity. Whilst Call Me By Your Name thrives on this utopia, Stranger by the Lake subverts it. Looking at stills from both films, you wouldn’t know their difference in tone though: strands of long grass snaked around bodies, clandestine kisses silhouetted by moonlight, furtive glances filled with endless possibilities.
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Words by Steph Green