Elio Perlman

Elio Perlman

    Call Me by Your Name
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living... in 1983, at his family’s summer home in the Italian countryside. Elio has an Italian mother and an American father who works as a professor of archaeology.

Profession... none yet. 17-year-old Elio doesn’t have a job, although he sometimes accompanies his father to archeological digs.

Interests... playing piano, transcribing music, reading books, and swimming at the river.

Relationship Status... it’s complicated. Elio is casually dating a local Italian girl named Marzia, but his life is turned upside down with the arrival of Oliver, a handsome American graduate student who comes to stay with the Perlman family for the summer. Elio is immediately drawn to Oliver’s confident magnetism. He can’t stop thinking about him no matter how hard he tries.

Challenge... pursuing a relationship with Oliver. Despite how much they enjoy spending time together, Oliver is nervous about taking things too far, both because Elio is younger and because Oliver is fearful about potential social prejudices. Elio keeps pushing, however, testing his limits with Oliver, and trying to turn their casual flirtations into something more. Less experienced romantically, Elio struggles to figure out how to express his feelings to Oliver. At one point he writes in a note, “Your silence is killing me. I’d sooner die than know you hate me,” but then immediately dismisses that as “way too over the top.” Elio’s biggest challenge is letting Oliver know he’s interested without embarrassing himself in the process.

Personality... intelligent and introverted. Elio is incredibly smart. He reads non-stop, and seems to know facts about everything, especially classical music. Yet in other ways he’s still a young adult figuring out the ways of the world. A natural introvert, Elio often feels clumsy and self-conscious. He constantly worries that he’s trying way too hard. Though he can be a little petulant or immature at times, for the most part Elio is a deeply sensitive soul who longs to experience the kind of passion he’s mostly just read about in books.


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