The ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Sequel Will Get a Whole Lot Darker

Director Luca Guadagnino plans to tackle AIDS in the follow-up to his Oscar-nominated film.
Call Me By Your Name
By  · Published on January 26th, 2018

Director Luca Guadagnino plans to tackle AIDS in the follow-up to his Oscar-nominated film.

Luca Guadagnino has revealed some details of his Call Me By Your Name sequel, but that might not be what everyone wants to hear. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Guadagnino fully intends to dive into the AIDS epidemic and its ripple effects on protagonist Elio (Timothée Chalamet).

In what he calls a “relevant part of the story,” it’s not unimaginable that Guadagnino hadn’t already thought about including AIDS in a sequel down the line. We already know the director has thought about continuing Elio and Oliver’s story. The fact that André Aciman’s original book is set within the timeframe of the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s also casts a shadow on the remaining unadapted portions of “Call Me By Your Name.” Guadagnino says:

“The novel has 40 pages at the end that goes through the next 20 years of the lives of Elio and Oliver, so there is some sort of indication through the intention of author André Aciman that the story can continue. In my opinion, ‘Call Me’ can be the first chapter of the chronicles of the life of these people that we met in this movie, and if the first one is a story of coming of age and becoming a young man, maybe the next chapter will be, what is the position of the young man in the world, what does he want — and what is left a few years later of such an emotional punch that made him who he is?”

Guadagnino chose to set Call Me By Your Name in 1983 (when HIV was first discovered), as opposed to keeping with Aciman’s original timeline. Whether that lent to some kind of foreshadowing specifically is debatable. Much of Call Me By Your Name feels like an intoxicating holiday — a discovery of love that leaves lasting impressions despite the feel-good nature of the characters’ surroundings. But there are hints of distress peeking through the cracks of hazy, humid Italy.

When I went to see Call Me By Your Name with a friend who hadn’t read the book, she revealed to me after it was over that she had been overcome with apprehension that Elio was going to end up terminally ill after he suddenly got a heavy nose bleed. There were also more immediate visceral reactions to Oliver showing Elio his severe wound. I’m sure that says something more about the state of LGBTQ cinema in general (and how characters, more often than not, actually do die). But those cues also serve to break up the idyllic nature of the romance onscreen with the potential of illness and the decay of the body. Nevertheless, these worries don’t make us wish for the end of Elio and Oliver’s relationship. In fact, quite the opposite happens; beautifully and tragically, the characters are bound together.

Guadagnino clearly aims to extend danger into the sequel more prominently, noting a potential opening scene for Elio to discover and contend with AIDS. Although this would truly bookend the epidemic for the follow-up to Call Me By Your Name, it’s a method that us avid film-watchers can likely identify with; learning from the movies we watch. Guadagnino says:

“I think Elio will be a cinephile, and I’d like him to be in a movie theater watching Paul Vecchiali’s ‘Once More’ (the first French movie to deal with AIDS). That could be the first scene [in the sequel].”

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)