Are Elio and Oliver Gay or Bisexual? What’s the Age Gap Between Them?

Set in Italy in the 80s, ‘Call Me by Your Name’ follows the story of Elio and Oliver, whose romance blossoms in the course of a summer when Oliver joins Elio’s family at their house to study under Elio’s father. After a rocky start, they find it impossible to deny the spark between them, and this leads them on a journey of sexual and self-exploration, which forever changes their lives. The audience gets to see them in the bubble of that summer, which breaks as the film comes to an end. It also leaves the audience with several questions, one of which is about the sexuality of the characters, especially after the final conversation between Oliver and Elio. SPOILERS AHEAD

Elio and Oliver are More Likely Bisexual

At its heart, ‘Call Me by Your Name’ focuses on the romance between two men, but considering everything, the film never really spells out their sexual identities. While it is easier to classify them both as gay, it would be looking at the characters through a rather restricted lens that only works in binaries. Sexuality, however, doesn’t work like that.

There are several signs that point towards the bisexuality of one or both characters. Starting with Elio, it is more likely that he is bisexual. An adolescent during the events of the movie, Elio is still exploring his sexual identity. We see him fooling around with Marzia, and while he doesn’t seem to be as romantically attached to her as he later gets with Oliver, it is clear that he does feel some attraction towards her. Just because he later falls in love with Oliver doesn’t erase what he had felt for Marzia. Moreover, nowhere in the movie is it shown that falling for Oliver is a sexual epiphany for Elio that he only likes men.

In the same vein, we see Oliver flirting with Chiara before things between him and Elio take flight. Moreover, at the end of the film, when he calls Elio, he reveals that he is going to be married. This isn’t a spur-of-the-moment or a new relationship that he had after returning home from Italy. He had been in an on-and-off relationship with the same girl for about three years, and the engagement is a culmination of that.

To further confirm that Elio and Oliver are not as rigidly restrained to one end of the sexual spectrum, we have author Andre Aciman confirming on several occasions that the sexuality of the character is fluid and is purposefully undefined in the story because the author didn’t want to cage his character in one thing or another. This shows that both Elio and Oliver are bisexual, or pansexual, to be more accurate.

Elio and Oliver Have a Seven-Year Age Gap

Actors Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer have an age difference of about nine years. Chalamet was 20, and Hammer was 29 when the movie was filmed. Their characters, however, are a bit younger. Elio is 17, and Oliver is 24 during the events of the film, putting the age difference between them to seven years. On the surface, seven years doesn’t seem like much. It’s a rather normal age gap between couples. However, the fact that Elio is underage at the time of his affair with Oliver has raised some questions over the years.

The age of consent in Italy is 14, so one might say that technically, there is no problem between Elio and Oliver’s relationship. However, Elio is still a teenager, and his sexual naïveté, in comparison to Oliver, who is much more aware of his sexuality, can be a bit questionable. From Elio’s perspective, things are a bit confusing as this is the first time he has been attracted to someone of the same sex. He is hesitant in the beginning but gets bolder with time, especially after it becomes clear to him that Oliver is also attracted to him.

Oliver, on the other hand, knows what he is doing (it was he who made the first move, rubbing Elio’s shoulders during a volleyball game). Despite being a point of contention for the audience, the age gap between the characters serves the story well on several levels, and Elio’s being a teenager at this juncture makes the whole affair even more potent and impactful.

Read More: Call Me by Your Name: Where Was the 2017 Movie Filmed?