The Lowdown: For Elio, the wide-eyed, deeply sensitive young man played by Timothée Chalamet at the center of Luca Guadignino’s Call Me by Your Name, the arrival of handsome grad student Oliver (Armie Hammer) represents a massive upheaval in the quiet equilibrium of his home in Northern Italy, where he lives with his academic parents in a simple life of book-reading and practicing the piano. Exploring feelings and urges he never knew he had amidst the sun-soaked Italian countryside, Elio’s journey takes him through the purity of teenage infatuation, and the agony that comes when it is stripped away.
The Good: In crafting the ephemeral summer of Call Me by Your Name, Guadignino assembled an eclectic soundtrack including everything from obscure European pop hits of the ’80s, to modern classical compositions by composers such as John Adams and Ryuichi Sakamoto. But the soundtrack’s real highlights are that of Sufjan Stevens, the instrumentalist who contributed three songs for the film, two of which are original compositions. More than anything, Stevens’ midtempo ballads, conveyed through his hushed, whispering vocals, beautifully capture the understated, fleeting romance Elio and Oliver experience throughout the film’s contemplative summer.
The Bad: The eclecticism of Guadignino’s soundtrack works well within the context of the film, but as a straightforward album, it’s a bit of a mess at times. Pinballing between bass-heavy Europop (Bandolero’s “Paris Latino”) to quaint piano compositions (Frank Glazer’s “Sonatine Bureautique”), there are quite a few moments of tonal whiplash that prevent the album from feeling more cohesive.
The Verdict: A charming, airy time capsule of ’80s European synth-pop and bittersweet modern orchestral compositions, peppered with Stevens’ patented tenderness, the Call Me by Your Name soundtrack feels like a mixtape curated by an adorably earnest teenager, hoping to show you just how smart – and how in love with you – he is. Our childhood summers may not have been as dreamlike as Elio’s (or full of peach-related amore), but this collection of songs might act as the perfect accompaniment the next time you weep silently in front of a fireplace, thinking of the loves that have passed you by.
Essential Tracks: “Mystery of Love” “Visions of Gideon,” “Love My Way” (The Psychedelic Furs)