Now Reading
‘Call Me By Your Name’ Is Jewish
Behar, and the Source of all Sustenance
Conflicted Convert
Emor, and Choosing Circumstances
Shlemazel in Love
Metzora, and the Purification Process
Eshet Chayi-less

‘Call Me By Your Name’ Is Jewish

You may have already heard plenty about Call Me By Your Name, the upcoming Luca Guadagnino film. There’s original music by Sufjan Stevens, Oscar buzz, and even some (misplaced) controversy. But you may have missed that this film is not only a queer coming-of-age romance— it’s a Jewish one.

Call Me By Your Name is based on a 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman about Elio, a teenager in Italy in the 1980s who falls for Oliver, a young academic who comes to stay with his family over the summer. Both the family and guest are Jews, a minority in a very Catholic country.

This shared bond is one of the things that brings Elio and Oliver together; Elio is enchanted by how Oliver wears his Jewishness on his sleeve (or literally, on his chest, in the form of a Magen David), and he tries to emulate him, despite the fact that his family describes themselves as “Jews of discretion.” Elio even wears his own Star of David (“My Star of David, his Star of David, our two necks like one, two cut Jewish men joined together from time immemorial,” writes Aciman in the original novel). In the novel, at least, this has a mixed effect for Elio:

Judaism never troubled [Oliver] the way it troubled me, nor was it the subject of an abiding, metaphysical discomfort with himself and the world. It did not even harbor the mystical, unspoken promise of redemptive brotherhood. And perhaps this was why he wasn’t ill at ease with being Jewish and didn’t constantly have to pick at it, the way children pick at scabs they wish would go away. He was okay with being Jewish.

In the novel, despite his secularity, Elio understands his own sexuality through the lens of Jewishness:

I remembered the scene in the Bible when Jacob asks Rachel for water and on hearing her speak the words that were prophesied for him, throws up his hands to heaven and kisses the ground by the well. Me Jewish, Clean Jewish, Oliver Jewish— we were in a half ghetto, half oasis, in an otherwise cruel and unflinching world where fuddling around strangers suddenly stops, where we misread no one and no one misjudges us, where one person simply knows the other and knows him so thoroughly that to be taken away from such intimacy is galut, the Hebrew word for exile and dispersal.

How Aciman writes Jewish characters is reminiscent of his personal essays about Jewishness; he treats the subjects with ambivalence and great poignancy. Aciman was born to a Jewish Egyptian family, living as a tiny minority until the family was forced to leave when the writer was a teenager.

As far as the film is concerned, much of the cast is Jewish as well. Armie Hammer, of Jewish descent, plays Oliver, and Jewish-American newcomer Timothée Chalamet plays Elio. Elio’s father is played by Michael Stuhlbarg of A Serious Man.

It’s exciting that an Oscar film for this season is also a Jewish queer one. The movie doesn’t come out in wide release till November, but you can enjoy the decadently Sufjan Stevens-laden trailer in the meantime (see if you can spot the Jewish star necklace):

Image via YouTube

View Comments (19)
  • I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog.

    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to
    see a nice blog like this one these days.

  • I think this is among the most vital info for me.

    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The site style
    is ideal, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

  • Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided to
    check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, superb blog!

  • Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m
    inspired! Very helpful info particularly the remaining section :) I take care
    of such info a lot. I used to be seeking this certain information for a long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  • I’m gone to inform my little brother, that he should also go to see
    this blog on regular basis to obtain updated from most up-to-date news.

  • Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find
    It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to offer something back and aid
    others such as you aided me.

  • Howdy! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with
    us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting
    this to my followers! Terrific blog and wonderful
    design and style.

  • What’s up all, here every one is sharing such know-how,
    thus it’s pleasant to read this website, and
    I used to visit this blog every day.

  • This is the right blog for everyone who is really wants to discover this topic. You know so much its nearly not easy to argue on hand (not that I really would want…HaHa). You actually put the latest spin for a topic thats been written about for years. Wonderful stuff, just fantastic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top