Call Me by Your Name isn’t really a film you mess with. Because most people I chat to, love it. And so there it stays. Up in the realm of untouchable films. The happy place. The great movie archive. We’ll soon be revisiting it on a dusky summer’s evening or a weekend morning. We’ll pull it back out when the winter months start creeping in and we need to remember what the light looked like. When we feel a bit down, it’s a wonderful piece of filmmaking to remind you of those holiday months you spent as a teenager. But it stays there.
When I first heard about the Instagram account Call Me by Monet I thought – what’s going on here? What could they have possibly done to enhance an already magical bit of movie making? And then I scrolled through. And ate my words. The concept? Scenes from CMBYN are set to the backdrop of Monet paintings. And Mika Labrague – the brains behind the account – has certainly chosen her moments. They are reminders of the film’s most poignant parts; the subtle glances here. The important family gatherings there. The stolen words elsewhere. She merges them with Monet’s work to complement their true glory.
The effect? Life imitating art. Art radiating life. It’s calming, serene and quite simply – brilliant. And what I love the most about Mika’s work is that it reflects how much films resonate with people. It teaches us that we do have the power to bring movies to life. It’s just up to us to interpret this in whatever way we please. But on this occasion? I wanted to know more about what inspired Mika. And she very kindly agreed to answer some of my questions.
Can you tell me a bit about your background and how Call Me by Monet was started?
I’m a graduate student studying Clinical Psychology. Call Me by Monet started out of my love for the film and book. Since Monet was referenced in the book, it already gave me an idea of what the setting would look like. Then one day after seeing the film, my friend and I were talking about how the setting of it had a similar vibe of Monet’s paintings – all the lush green trees and colourful flowers, the blue skies and beaches. Out of curiosity, I decided to browse through more of Monet’s paintings online and I was automatically reminded of certain scenes from the film. From there, I decided to merge the two masterpieces.
What was it about the film Call Me by Your Name specifically that made you want to work with it?
I guess it would be the how Luca Guadagnino, the director of the film, had translated the novel so beautifully in real life. As I mentioned, the settings of the film resembled Monet’s paintings so much that it inspired me to make something beautiful from it as well. The story of Elio and Oliver; the first loves and heartbreak, was also written so beautifully that it touched me and I got attached to it – which led me to this passion project.
I’d kiss you if I could – in Villas at Bordighera by Claude Monet (1884) – @cmbynmonet
Why did you feel that merging the two worlds of Monet and the film, was important?
We get to appreciate how a high and low culture hybrid could turn into something beautiful. The Monet paintings and the film are beautiful and exemplary individually, but by merging them, the result turns into another form of art that tells the story in a different way. The blend reminded me of how life imitates art; Elio and Oliver’s life that summer of 1983 resembles Monet’s life during the 1800’s.
‘I can show you around’ – in The Sheltered Path by Claude Monet (1873) – @cmbynmonet
What’s your favourite film? Do you think you will apply this to any other movies?
My current favourite is still Call Me by Your Name. But other than that my favourites include Parent Trap and Lady Bird. Personally, I don’t see myself working on other films but if others would like to experiment with other movies similar to what I did, they should go for it! I’d love to see their work as well.
And finally! What does the future hold for you?
I’m currently selling prints of the Call Me by Monet work as many people are requesting it!
You can follow Mika’s work on the Instagram account @cmbynmonet – keep your eyes peeled for the posters which are available to buy. And most importantly, if you haven’t yet seen Call Me by Your Name – give it a watch – go on. You won’t regret it. You have my – (and I can assume Mika’s) word.