I think it is really here, everyone. Perhaps we really have found it. The ultimate LGBTQ movie of all time. Both "Carol" and "The Danish Girl" were movies that rocked my world and broke my heart. They were utter triumphs for the LGBTQ community and I had never felt such amazing admiration for works of film in my life. I was entranced and truly I haven't felt that much joy for a film until now. With the beauty I found in the movie, I also found flaws which I hope does not lead you to believe I have formulated some sort of click bait title as this is a genuine article of admiration for the wonders that was "Call Me By Your Name."
However, the one thing Hollywood seems to not be capable of doing is writing accurate LGBTQ movies and I doubt there will be one any time soon (that is until my screenplay hits the world someday.) "Call Me By Your Name" perfectly captured the often borderline obsession that can come from a first love and especially a first love who acts so aloof as Oliver.
I, myself, have been in similar situations to Elio, pining over someone who just doesn't seem to love me quite as much as I love them. The feelings Elio experienced were evident and painful. The camera work was phenomenal. One scene shows Elio and Oliver biking off into the distance and the camera doesn't cut away from the shot until they are tiny little ants barely visible far off in the distance. It really captures the feel of Oliver and Elio riding off into the sunset with one another.
There were also scenes in the bustling streets of Italy where I could hear motorcycles roar as they passed Oliver and Elio, making me feel like I was really and truly standing the streets of Italy with them. As I was watching the film, I wondered why sound editors hadn't fixed the loud, obnoxious roar, but then I figured this might have been completely intentional. Maybe we really were meant to feel like we were sitting with Elio and Oliver in the middle of Italy. We were a part of their story too.
Now, for the accuracy of representation of the LGBTQ community. Please, please, please can we just have a gay character who is gay and does not have a girlfriend whom he fools around on while dating his secret boyfriend, sleep with a girl, or rebound with a girl when his man leaves him. The relationship between Marzia and Elio actually made me deeply saddened and rather disturbed at times. What Marzia and what Elio wanted were exceedingly different.
Marzia knew that from the start too. "You're going to hurt me" she told Elio as they stood that one day when Oliver had rejected him. Elio used Marzia time and time again. Their relationship was also something I did not expect. I figured they were going to get together when I first saw the trailer, but when their first interaction came and all they did was skinny dip I thought maybe this was just a platonic relationship that wouldn't take a sexual turn. Of course, I was sadly mistaken.
Given by their first encounter of intercourse between Elio and Marzia, it was most likely her first time. In no way am I even remotely the person to say that a woman's first time has to be special. If sex is just sex for you, that is fine. However, it was evident that Marzia really did want something more from Elio and as I watched, I couldn't help but feel like it was a waste. She had dedicated so much time and energy to someone who was never going to pour it back into her.
I also felt Marzia was more than a rebound, but an experiment of sexuality. Comments were made on how erect he was when they first slept together so it was obvious he liked women as well and that was something that perhaps was written into the movie to prove that fact about Elio. However, their relationship felt so very sad, forced, and at times, just annoying.
Elio sort of acted as the typical horny teen towards Marzia. Marzia wanted to swim, dance, laugh, and party and even though Elio was a deeply emotional character full of so much, pain, depth, hurt, and art. He still seemed to be wheedled down to that of a horny middle school boy when he was around Marzia. Another scene of the two of them that was bothersome is when she biked to his house, passing Oliver. Oliver didn't seem to give any expression that he cared in the slightest and Marzia seemed to be doing just to swim. They swam and then he brought her up to the attic, not telling her what he was bringing her for, then pulled out an old, dusty mattress while playing some staticy, out of tune radio, and while making rather sweet, tender love to her, looking at his watch for when he was going to meet Oliver.
Both love scenes between the characters felt bothersome and unnecessary to me and I wish we could have a love story that was cute and fluffy without being bombarded by heterosexual narratives, as if a character can't just exist as a gay character, they absolutely have to be married to someone of the opposite sex, sleeping with someone of the opposite sex, or questioning whether they should be.
Marzia quite obviously was a rebound, there was no question, but as I've said she served as more. She was an experiment and something that proved to Elio that he could be straight. I think as Oliver treated Elio passively, Marzia might have also served as a sort of security blanket. Even though Oliver didn't care for him, at least someone actually did. Marzia did.
Elio's lines toward Oliver were just as raw and awkward as it so often is in real life. Love is weird and awkward and violently uncomfortable and all those themes were perfectly captured in "Call Me By Your Name." Their first kiss, although hot and beautiful, was rather awkward, with pauses and abrupt endings. They laid in the grass quietly, when Oliver moved toward and Elio made the decision to meet him half way. Their kisses were nice, but rather awkward with long pauses in between. The first time they made love was even more awkward and as I read the manuscript while watching the movie, I can attest to the fact that is was slightly more raunchy when originally written than how it was portrayed on screen.
The infamous "call me by your name" line was said in the movie after the love making as they gently held one another and was originally written while in intercourse they start to call the opposite's name. I obviously prefer the screen portrayal.
Elio proved just how vulnerable he was when he came to Oliver's room that midnight. In a way, I truly think he felt the same way Marzia must have felt on their first time. "I'm nervous," He said. He was mirroring the words Marzia had said earlier to him without really saying them. He was terrified of being hurt. We all seemed to know the pain Oliver was going to bring him was absolutely inevitable. Someone that infatuated with a person is bound to get hurt. He seemed to mirror the love Marzia gave him to Oliver as well as the nervous vulnerability.
If only Marzia could transfer her love of Elio to Oliver, and Elio's infatuation with Oliver to everyone else so that they might see what a beautiful and tragic person Oliver is. Elio sees the beauty. Their foreplay is odd and uncomfortable, not weird, but just as awkward as it would be in real life. Elio knocks his foot against Oliver's and Oliver slams the door, much to Elio's dismay as he laughs and scolds him for doing so.
The painful smile Elio gives Oliver when he wakes up is one that felt all too familiar, as though I have seen the same forcefully pained smile a million time in my life. Oliver mirrors the smile out of politeness, but the forced pain is obviously there and lingering between the both of them. There is no words, only discomfort, absolutely silent discomfort between the two of them at one of the most realistic and awkward exchanges. Something is wrong and Oliver knows it, both their expressions mirror this fact.
Oliver and Elio continued on in their love, Elio acting hesitant the next morning and Oliver convincing him not to be in a rather steamy way (hello, four-second bathroom head) all the while Marzia is still kind of hanging around. Elio and Oliver then go on a trip and this is their last hurrah, cementing their love before Oliver has to go back to America. Here, they dance and get drunk, wallowing around the forest to the iconic and beautiful melody, "Blessed Be The Mystery." The sound starts with its quiet twang of guitar as the whispered lyrics "oh, to see without my eyes" are quietly uttered. There is a wide pan shot of exactly what Oliver and Elio are seeing, the beauty of the terrain that is around them.
As they part the next day, Elio holds it together. Then on the car ride home, he begins to cry. Elio is the main one to cry, symbolizes his youth and how vulnerable he so often is around Oliver. Elio is much younger and overall sometimes seems a lot more sensitive. He cried when Oliver tried to eat the peach, cried when Oliver left, and cried in the most gut-wrenching scene of the whole movie after he gets off the phone with Oliver and stares into the roar of the warm fire.
The way Oliver and Elio ended was tragic and there are times where all I want is a gay fluffy love story where one of the lovers doesn't have to die or be separated from the one that they love. I want that, however, the story seemed undeniably realistic. Oliver leaves when it is his time and upon leaving, moves on, a plot that is exceedingly realistic to a vast majority of relationships, especially relationships that seemed to have an expiration date on them from the start. Elio receives the phone call from Oliver, telling him that Oliver has moved on and will be getting married in the spring. In a moderately bitter yet perky voice, Elio says, "that's wonderful news..." and Oliver asks him if he minds.
Elio whispers his own name into the telephone referencing the name of the movie, "call me by your name and I'll call you by mine." Oliver whispers back a quiet "Oliver" and tells Elio he remembers everything/ The entire thing was painful, but real, as if it might have happened just that way. Elio and Oliver's love was indeed a timeless one, but it was a timeless one that contained a massive reality check in the middle.
Oliver went back to America to teach and Elio was stuck with his empty room and the memories, stuck to sleep in a bed he once laid with Oliver in and received a love like no other. It almost seemed a trap and maybe even a bad idea from the start, but those facts couldn't fight the feelings that the two had for one another.
The word gay was not said one time in this entire film. The film, although an LGBTQ triumph, really was not about being gay or being straight. It was about being loved and loving the one who loves you. Gay was not the topic of discussion here, but rather love and what it truly was to be loved. Elio never said the word and neither did Oliver, not because either one of them was scared of it, but because that's simply not what either of them were.
Such a label did not do justice the love that they contained. Broad labels fail us in many areas and it did just that for Oliver and Elio. I believe this is one of the first LGBT films I've mentioned where it wasn't directly addressed in the film that the movie was LGBT. It is almost like the writers felt the need to inform us what we were watching instead of letting us watch it ourselves. Elio and Oliver both seemed to break free of any of the stereotypes and narrow labels that LGBTQ movies are often shoved into.
Elio stares into the fire, tears in his eyes as the beauty of the soundtrack works its wonders again. I was dumbfounded when I watched the Academy Awards only to watch the "Call Me By Your Name" soundtrack lose. I was still very happy for "Coco," but shocked nonetheless. The soundtrack perfectly captured the euphoric feelings of Oliver and Elio even using the line "oh, to see without my eyes" as they showed a wide pan of the exact terrain Oliver and Elio were seeing on their journey with one another.
The song "Visions of Gideon" plays and the credits roll alongside the crying face of Elio, hearing the clank dishes in the back as his mother and father set the table for Hanukkah. The scene is why I know Timothee Charamet was nominated for Best Actor. His tears were real and the pain he felt was real. I've felt such a pain in my lifetime. The film ends the way it began, with his name... Elio's name. The name that now holds a whole new meaning thanks to Oliver. The name he called out when with Oliver, the name he whispered over the phone.
"Elio, Elio, Elio, Elio..."