The LGBTQ+ community has conquered in recent years a more than deserved space within cinematographic and serial representation. With numerous productions focusing on the relationships between traditionalist family members and children who suffered from adopting social masks that oppressed their personality and who, in fact, they were. Over the years, this narrative became cliché and opened up space for the construction of affective bonds, following in the footsteps of romantic dramas and always placing a background of social criticism and that walked towards acceptance. It’s no surprise that works like ‘Blue is the hottest color’ e ‘Today I Want to Go Back Alone’ have gained much acclaim from audiences and critics alike, with the apex coming with the coming-of-age ‘Moonlight – Under the Moonlight’which even took home the Oscar for Best Picture.
And then we come to ‘Call Me By Your Name’🇧🇷 Based on the novel of the same name by andre aciman, the narrative revolves around a boy who begins to fall in love with a traveling historian who stays at his house for a few weeks. At first, we can see this story as the epitome of the formulas of romantic and impossible novels so explored by literature and cinema since its inception – but the differential of bringing a gay couple as the protagonist is really something to be taken into account. After all, if we take into account the history of this magnanimous entertainment industry, there were very few works that really set out to create something simple for these types of characters.
In your movie, Luca Guadagnino transports us to the beauty and bucolism of the Italian scene, more precisely traveling in its interior and away from the big metropolises that normally serve as an imagery scope and transcendental base for the novel. It is even possible to draw parallels, albeit sparse, with ‘The Secret of Brokeback Mountain’, as the main characters find themselves in an isolated environment within their perspectives and with a totally unique cosmos so that they can be themselves. But things don’t work that fast, since neither part really starts the narrative in an assumed way – and it is in this regard that perhaps the story carries its biggest flaw.
Timothée Chalamet embodies Elio, a seventeen-year-old young man extremely mature for his age and who has numerous skills, including fluency in several languages such as French, Italian and English, and an unbelievable affection for the piano. He lives with his parents, played by Michael Stuhlbarg e Amira Casar, in a kind of old-fashioned and very majestic townhouse, inside which he ventures through countless books and even the paradisiacal orchard, which emerges as an essential element for his maturation, even if we cannot predict this right away. The peace and order with which they are used to living finds a sudden brake with the arrival of the professor, historian, philosopher and whatever else Oliver is (Armie Hammer).
First, we need to understand that the bonds between Oliver and Elio are enchanting, and that only comes with the purity and chemistry that both Hammer and Chalamet bring to the screen, moving with grace as the narrative goes through highs and lows. and creates the necessary conditions for feelings to surface and the long-awaited discovery to be satisfying enough for the audience. And that, like all good drama, walks at a slow pace and uses gaps to feed themes such as jealousy, envy, hate and love: in several sequences, it is possible to feel the tension between the two protagonists and how it is skewed depending on the situation. camera desires, basing itself even on the constant presence of water to reaffirm its fluidity.
The story is set in the 1980s, a somewhat paradoxical decade in relation to issues of gender and race – which in this case represented “issues on the agenda” regarding the evolution of a society driven by conservative values. And this important information seems to have escaped Guadagnino’s eyes or even his creative team: it is logical that we don’t have the soap opera melodrama typical of similar plots, but everything moves with intense joy and intangible happiness. There are no obstacles to be overcome, or at least they are not visible to the public eye: the parents accept Elio as he is; Oliver has a strong personality that seems unbreakable and insurmountable by outside forces other than the boy’s. So one hopes that at least this burgeoning relationship will, in its unique perspectives, have some way of becoming more palpable – and that’s not exactly what happens by the end of the second act.
Elio and Oliver are humans, not gods. Their characterizations do not transcend our expectations and remain in a dialogic comfort zone for those who accompany them. But what is really missing for this chemistry to reach its maximum potential are the obstacles, even if internal, even if within the world that the two create. The declarative and pure romance scenes – and even the most piquant ones – function as very well-elaborated choreographies and odes to the romantic novels that so populate the popular imagination. But at the slightest indication of “problems in Paradise”, the script seeks a way out in a universe that is totally alien to the two to return to the beauty and immutability of love.
This excess of optimism and happiness, as if that were not enough, is reaffirmed by the essentially lively color palette, which only manages to find its own identity as the two move away, being subtly replaced by the cold and accurate choice of blue. And it is understandable that the option for more closed shots that value the intimacy of the characters often forgets the pure beauty of the Italian setting, but it is also a fact that photography could very well use this dreamlike backdrop as a way of suppressing the flowery forays of the script and reaffirm that passion in a less obvious way.
In any case, the resolution of the film at least manages to break the exacerbated premeditations, deciding to dive into the world of disappointments in love and the disillusionment of the “first love” by placing Elio in a state of painful self-reflection and which serves as a mirror for countless people who pass by. for the same situation, mainly in relation to the discovery and acceptance of one’s own sexuality and how each one deals differently with what is to come.
Aesthetically and narratively, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ it is a relatively satisfactory film, even if it uses clichés to compose a narrative with immense potential. However, we cannot take away the personal and subjective value of this love story in relation to its target audience and even those who need visibility to compose their individualism and really feel belonging to the society in which they live.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, the film follows a sensitive and only child of the American family of Italian and French Perlman ancestry, Elio, is facing another lazy summer in his parents’ house in the beautiful and languid Italian countryside. But everything changes when Oliver arrives, an academic who has come to help his father’s research.
Armie Hammer e Timothée Chalamet star production.
A sequel, based on the second book in the franchise – titled ‘Meet me‘ – was in development. Although, after the various controversies about cannibalism and abuse involving the actor Hammerit is likely that the project has been shelved.