As I am up and about I decided to catch up on movies. I am glad that the first film I decided to see after the break was Call Me by Your Name. I believe that it will disappear from my local cinema soon and it would have been such a shame not to have seen it. I was not aware that this is another film by Luca Guadagnino. Not that I knew that another two films that made a particular impression on me were made by the same person. Now I see the very strong emotional similarities in all three films. The other two are I Am Love and A Bigger Splash. It has been some time ago that I saw the other films and at that time I did not link them. The links that for me are strongest are between I Am Love and Call Me by Your Name. Both of the films show love or rather submission to ecstatic love in a similar way. Both made me a bit uncomfortable in the way they show the naked feelings of passion. Nothing vulgar about it, just so honest and natural that somebody, maybe a little prude like myself, finds it slightly uncomfortable. Those are touching and memorable scenes, though.
Both of the films show the tremendous beauty of Italy. The first one presents elegantly stylized interiors of a Milanese modern mansion and the other rather messy, but full of objects of considerable beauty and books, lakeside villa somewhere in the Northern Italy. And of course, abundance of Italian nature in both of the films as a background to uninhibited feelings.
Call Me by Your Name is a film about a young, very intelligent and sensitive, talented boy and his awakening sexuality. Sensuality is build into him through the environment he lives in and his absolutely incredible parents. I wonder if such parents really exist? My direct experience is of life in the middle-class situation and the film is about academics involved in higher artistic pursuits. Maybe this can make a difference and maybe the times are now of higher acceptance of non-conventional love? I still look at the film from a perspective of an older person who only watched the changes rather than lived through them.
So, it is about Elio, 17teen-year-old American-Italian who spends summer holidays with his parents in their villa somewhere in Northern Italy. Oliver the American graduate student of Elio’s father comes to spend some weeks with the family. He is given the room of Elio and gaining a description of ‘usurper’ said with a French accent. The dialogs are interchangeable English-Italian-French. The relationship starts with some reservations and almost unfriendliness towards the young American who says “later” to finish a conversation which Elio considers inappropriate and rude. This is how it sometimes is in early stages of love which has not yet come to realization of what it really is all about. Oliver is a very beautiful man and his physical beauty is shown as typically beautiful women are shown. He is not feminine at all though; his body is sculptured like Roman statues. And this is beautiful.
Elio is at the stage of life when he is about to discover sharing his sexuality with another person. He does not have particular preferences as far as sex is concerned and I find it refreshing if not surprising. There is a girl he thinks of having his first experience with and then this fascination with this older then himself man takes over his senses and desires. Sharing on intellectual level takes precedence. And this is what the story is all about. The love between two men, true, romantic, homosexual love. And this is beautiful. I started to understand homosexual love, I think.
The role of Elio’s parents in amazing. At the early stages of the romance, the mother already sees what is going on and with full understanding what turmoil her son may be experiencing reassures him saying that Oliver likes him more than Elio likes Oliver. This is like an advice given by a more experienced person. While I had been in a similar situation with my mother supporting my first love it was a girl-boy type of love. In the film, the support of the parent went further and this is the change of times, I noticed with some surprise.
Equally moving was a tender scene between Elio and his father who, knowing how difficult parting of the two lovers may be for his son, talks to him with deep understanding and empathy about beauty of love in all its forms; sorrow and sadness being a part of it.
At one stage the father said that the first love is most valuable and most powerful and that to each following one we have less to give. This I found particularly true. It explained some of my personal experience only too well. I think I may order the book on which the film is based on. Apparently, the scene between the father and son is taken verbatim from the book. There is also a different ending. Hmm… I am curious. Five out of five for the film.