Luca Guadagnino Argues ‘Call Me’ Is ‘Not a Romantic Movie,’ Defends Not Showing Sex Scene

"It’s never about showing a raunchy moment of sex," he said. "I don’t know how these guys were having sex. That’s not the point."
"Call Me by Your Name"
"Call Me by Your Name"
Sony Pictures Classics

Don’t call “Call Me By Your Name” a romance film. Director Luca Guadagnino argues that the Oscar-winning period piece starring Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer as star-crossed lovers is more tragedy than romance.

“The movie is very tragic,” Guadagnino told Fantastic Man. “People think it’s very romantic, but I think it’s tragic. The honesty of Elio (Chalamet) is crushed by the dishonesty of Oliver (Hammer), and when Elio cries, he cries over the fact he’s being stabbed to death by Oliver’s lies, which happens to us every day in relation­ships.”

Guadagnino added, “It’s not a romantic movie or a vanilla version of gay love, and to read the movie in that way is a bit silly. And ironic.”

While “Call Me By Your Name” was criticized for the way it panned to a tree during a sex scene between Elio and Oliver, Guadagnino has maintained that showcasing their lovemaking would have been an “unkind intrusion” to the characters. To Fantastic Man, the director called any complaints about “not literally showing sex” a “narrow way of looking at the movie.”

“In my opinion, that was the moment when I was leaving the lovers alone. I didn’t want to make a movie about the lust of two bodies,” Guadagnino said. ” “‘Call Me by Your Name’ is a movie about love. It’s never about showing a raunchy moment of sex, or whatever kind of sex they were having. I don’t know how these guys were having sex. That’s not the point.”

He continued, “And also, I was never trying to make a mainstream film. I never con­sidered whether anything we were filming would annoy a mainstream audience. That was never a consid­eration. Nobody thought while we were filming that we were making a mainstream film about gay love, or that we were going to have a huge audience. Who could have known? The idea of us deciding that we didn’t want to show what it means when two boys fuck — it’s preposterous!”

Guadagnino does have two films in the works that he does categorize as romances: his first studio movie “Challengers” starring Josh O’Connor, Mike Faist, and Zendaya entangled in a love triangle, from a script by Justin Kuritzkes that Guadagnino is “convinced” will definitely win an Oscar; and “Bones and All” about a cannibal couple, played by “Call Me By Your Name” star Chalamet and Taylor Russell.

The admittedly graphic film is, however, a certified romantic movie unlike “Call Me By Your Name,” according to Guadagnino.

“I like to think that ‘Bones and All’ is an extremely romantic movie addressing the romanticism that lies within us and within relationships in general,” the “Suspiria” director said. “Of course, there’s the literal aspect of it being a movie about cannibal lovers, which is extreme in many ways, but I think the more extreme aspect of the movie is the intensity of the feelings that these people go through, the impossibility of love.”

And while the sequel to “Call Me By Your Name” titled “Find Me” is indefinitely on hold following the allegations against lead star Hammer, director Guadagnino also confirmed that his remake of 1980s drama series “Brideshead Revisited” is officially shelved. The series was set to star Andrew Garfield, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, and Rooney Mara for BBC.

Guadagnino’s Audrey Hepburn biopic is still in development and a remake of “Scarface” may be on the horizon.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.