If there’s one thing Hollywood loves, it’s a movie that can generate profitable sequels. But when we think of sprawling film franchises, we tend to think of large commercial properties like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars. What about follow-ups to critically-acclaimed arthouse dramas?
Moviegoers could see one such sequel to Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino’s swooning adaptation of the 2007 André Aciman novel. Both the book and the film revolve around the passionate romance that unfolds between teenager Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer) in the summer of 1983.
This week, Aciman released Find Me, a long-awaited follow-up to Call Me By Your Name that catches up with the characters years later. Given the success of Guadagnino’s beloved adaptation, which grossed over $40 million and won James Ivory the 2018 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the director’s previous interest in making a sequel, should fans expect a Find Me film in the coming years?
Maybe, but timing is a major issue. Guadagnino’s film ends only a few months after the pair’s summer together, when Elio receives a call from Oliver during Christmastime and learns about his engagement.
The original Call Me By Your Name novel goes past this scene with two epilogues, set 15 and 20 years after the main story, that overlap with the events of Find Me.
In the first, Elio drops by the American university where Oliver is now working, and they get a drink. Elio admits that he is still attracted to Oliver and that he’s somewhat jealous of his former lover’s wife and children. In turn, Oliver admits that he has kept up with records of Elio and his academic career. The two of them reflect on how people can live parallel lives — their real lives and the fantasies denied to them by societal expectations and restrictions — before once again going their separate ways.
In the second epilogue, Oliver visits Elio at his Italian family home once again, after Elio’s father has died. They reflect on their history together, before Elio concludes by telling the audience that if Oliver truly remembers everything that he says he does, then the older man should “look me in the face, hold me by my gaze, and call me by your name.”
Arriving at the tail end of Call Me By Your Name‘s lush, passionate prose, the epilogues pack an especially impactful emotional punch. Elio and Oliver both still long for the connection that they shared during that summer, but a disapproving world and the ceaseless passage of time have seemingly robbed them of a longterm relationship with one another. These scenes, bolstered by additional plot details from Find Me, could lay the groundwork for a melancholic, meditative film sequel.
The potential trouble is that the timeframe of Find Me is much more intricate than that of Call Me By Your Name. The new book is divided into four sections — “Tempo,” “Cadenza,” “Capriccio,” and “Da Copo” — named after Italian music terms. The novel jumps around in time, set 10, then 15, then 20 years after Call Me By Your Name.
That means that to experience Elio and Oliver’s story in order, fans must read the original book, then “Tempo” in Find Me, the first epilogue in Call Me By Your Name, ”Cadenza,” ”Capriccio,” then the second Call Me By Your Name epilogue, and finally, “Da Capo.” Confused yet?
Adapting Find Me could also be difficult because the two lovers aren’t even reunited until the novel’s fourth and final portion. The first, most substantial section (“Tempo”) hardly features either of them at all — instead, it revolves around Elio’s father Samuel, and his new lover Miranda. More specifically, the characters reflect on the age gap between them (Miranda is half Samuel’s age).
Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrayed Samuel in Call Me By Your Name, received widespread acclaim and an eventual Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his moving monologue to Elio affirming his “beautiful” relationship with Oliver. Still, that doesn’t mean that audiences eager to witness Elio and Oliver’s reunions will be eager to witness long scenes dedicated to Samuel’s sexual explorations.
In Find Me‘s second section (“Cadenza”), Elio takes center stage as narrator. Like the first Call Me By Your Name epilogue, things pick up 15 years after the events of the main story. Elio, now in his thirties, is a concert pianist in Paris, and falling in love with Michel, a man twice his age.
The relationship between two grown men is inherently different from a summer tryst between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old, but the Call Me By Your Name age gap and the fact that Elio is technically a minor by American standards was enough to cause controversy during the film’s Oscar campaign. Aciman doubling down on age differences again could alienate some viewers.
Nevertheless, the Elio of Find Me sees Michel as the only person in his life thus far who has ever compared to Oliver. “There’s only been two of you,” Elio says to his new partner at one point. “All the others were occasionals. You have given me days that justify the years I’ve been without him.”
Oliver, who finally appears in the sequel’s third section (“Capriccio”), hasn’t found the real connection that he and Elio shared since. He’s on ostensibly civil terms with his wife but attempts numerous rendezvous with both men and women that lead nowhere.
Oliver is only stirred from his half-hearted monotony when a house guest plays the same piano piece that Elio once played for him. By this point, Oliver has met Elio again during the night described in Call Me By Your Name‘s first epilogue, and the piano performance makes him question his previous dismissal of their relationship.
“Cadenza” and “Capriccio,” while mostly comprised of mutual pining, present opportunities for miniature character studies within the context of a film. Given that “Capriccio” is the first time Oliver has ever been a point-of-view narrator and is able to tell his side of the story, this section could also give Hammer the chance to delve further into the character, who has aged so much from his languid grad school days. Plus, the actor would have a chance to earn the Oscar nomination he was snubbed for Call Me By Your Name.
In the fourth section of Find Me (“Da Capo”), Elio and Oliver are finally reunited once more. “De Capo” appears to pick up just after the final epilogue of Call Me By Your Name, as they leave Elio’s family home for a three-week tour of the Mediterranean. Without revealing too much about the novel’s ending, the two men now approach one another not with the delirious passion of their first summer together but with a more tentative fondness that indicates their joy at having a substantial stretch of time together again.
Time, and how it impacts our relationships, is a key theme that makes Find Me much slower and more philosophical than its predecessor. Guadagnino has expressed interest in looking at Call Me By Your Name again during a different time, the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s. While both of Aciman’s books skirt the specter of HIV and AIDS that often hangs over gay stories, the director told The Hollywood Reporter in early 2018 that his version of the sequel would address the issue.
Guadagnino said that he envisions a Before Sunrise-like series of films that, like Find Me and the original novel’s epilogues, finds Elio and Oliver at different points in their lives. However, given the filmmaker’s faithfulness to the original novel in Call Me By Your Name and Aciman’s decision to rush a book sequel after the movie’s success, the two could also merge their visions into subsequent films.
The actors seem ready to jump back into their roles, as well. Chalamet previously told Time magazine that he and Hammer are “1,000 percent in.” It’s unclear whether Guadagnino and co. will wait until the actors have grown into the ages of Elio and Oliver in later chapters of their lives, or use aging technology to give fans onscreen answers in a handful of years. Whatever the case, if a film returns to somewhere in southern Italy in the future, a dedicated audience is sure to follow.