Elio, a 17-year-old American Jew, lives in an Italian rural area with his parents. His father, a professor of archeology, invites an American Jewish college graduate, Oliver, to live with them during the summer of 1983 and to help him with his academic work. Elio, a miraculous child of music, finds no point in common with Oliver, whose exuberant and unimpaired personality contrasts heavily with his.
Elio is completely dissatisfied with the fact that he has to give up Oliver’s room during his stay with them. He spends most of his summer time reading books and going out with his girlfriend, Marzia, while Oliver is attracted to one of the local girls. Soon, however, Elio and Oliver begin to spend some of their time together and a seduction game begins – they swim together, take long walks through the city and accompany Elio’s father on a journey.
Although Elio begins a sexual relationship with Marzia and praises this to Oliver to see his reaction, he is increasingly attracted to him. As he goes to the post office, Elio confesses to Oliver more bypassed by what he feels for him, and he gently tells him that he should not take these feelings and not act in accordance with them.