Bisexual Representation in Call Me By Your Name


2017 stood as a great year for LGBT films with the release of incredible movies such as Moonlight and God’s Own Country.  The 2017 film which stood out to me as a masterpiece was Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name.

At this point, nearly everyone has heard of Call Me By Your Name, especially as it was nominated for best picture in the Oscars and won best adapted screen play. The story follows the growing relationship between Elio Perlman and his father’s graduate assistant, Oliver. Although a somewhat slow burn, their love slowly unfolds and flourishes as they grow closer.

You may ask why I hold this film so highly, even above the Oscar winner Moonlight. I could go on about how I found the cinematography stunning, the music outstanding and the story itself heart wrenching but this isn’t a review.

The importance of Call Me By Your Name comes from its representation of bisexuality in the story. The main story itself follows the romantic interest of two men but they are thought to be bisexual. This is shown by their relationships with females.

Oliver’s bisexuality appears more concrete. From the beginning, he is presented as almost a lady’s man and incredibly likeable. A whole scene is dedicated to a group of young girls swooning over him as he plays volleyball. He has a relationship with a girl that only ends as he reciprocates Ellio’s feelings. In the book, it is hinted that Oliver has more experience with males in the past. As for Ellio, he has less experience than Oliver. In fact, it is Oliver that makes me realise he is bisexual. The film offers two bisexual characters, one who is comfortable in his sexuality and one who is slowly discovering it. This is a great investigation into sexuality itself, presented beautifully in the film.

In the end, is it essential we question this. Does this really matter if two characters are bisexual? Maybe not too many but to me it is, and I feel like it something many have skipped over. Bisexual representation is typically missing in many areas of LGBT representation. In my opinion, this is partially due to people’s opinions on bisexuality (or bi-erasure.)

When bisexual people get into relationships, people typically start to label them from their relationship. Take Elio and Oliver for example, when watching the film, people tend to see them as two homosexual men. Just because they are in a gay relationship, it doesn’t mean they are gay.

Although Call Me By Your Name does not address this issue, I feel like that is not a bad thing. The film almost offers a perfect vision where everyone accepts the world presented. It almost gave me hope, especially with Elio’s parents attitude to their relationship. They accept it and more than anything, support Elio through his struggle of getting over Oliver.

Call Me By Your Name was a hit in the LGBT community, especially as it led to a more open discussion into bisexual representation as well as being quite a pleasant film.

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