About half an hour into Call Me by Your Name, Luca Guadagnino’s film adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name, a precocious 17-year-old named Elio (Timothée Chalamet) sits at an outdoor club. He’s surrounded by some friends who are gabbing about a duo on the dance floor: Oliver (Armie Hammer) and Chiara (Victoire Du Bois). “Who wouldn’t love to be in her shoes?” one of Elio’s friends swoons. A handsome American graduate student, Oliver doesn’t look all that different from the Hellenistic statues of buff men he’s helping his professor, who’s also Elio’s father, study for six weeks. The music eventually switches to the Psychedelic Furs’ 1982 track “Love My Way,” drawing Elio’s friends to the floor. At first, Elio hangs back, puffing on a cigarette and gazing, intrigued, at Oliver. He smiles, then joins the group.
And there Elio and Oliver are, bopping and bouncing to the music—the only thing, in that moment, connecting the two young men, whose romantic feelings for one another unfurl over the course of the coming-of-age drama. Released as a sneak peek before the film’s November release, this particular scene has become the stuff of memes (thanks largely to a Converse-clad Oliver and his charmingly oafish footwork). But it deserves more serious attention, too. Though other memorable encounters between Elio and Oliver follow, this moving scene is arguably a set piece of Call Me by Your Name. It’s the first real moment of closeness between the story’s two main queer characters, who are testing out ways to nurture their growing intimacy—even if they have to navigate it wordlessly and out in the open.