I have noticed a disturbing trend in recent popular films.
My mother actually first pointed out this phenomenon to me in “Call Me By Your Name,” a romantic, coming-of-age movie — that actually won a bunch of awards and was one of the best films I saw this year undoubtedly — and I defended it in due to the time period that it was based on. However, the more movies I watch that display this action as ‘sexy,’ the more I think that it is less about the time period and more about the reaction that people will have, or I suppose it makes the film seem more ‘artsy’ or something?
“Call Me By Your Name” is actually based in 1983, so cigar smoking was more prevalent than it is now because the effects were lesser known. Also, it is based in Italy, and Europe seems to more commonly have more smokers (or at least people smoking in public areas). And this was my argument, but I see where my mom is coming from when she says that regardless of the time period — it is pretty constant throughout the entire movie and plus the seventeen-year-old Elio, played by Timothée Chalamet (one of the main characters) is also seen regularly smoking.
So even though it might be expressing something artistic and could be blamed on the time period, it could be less represented and even promoted. Cigarette smoking is becoming romanticized, in a way, when producers and writers choose to represent it in such an appealing manner, especially to seventeen-year-old kids who might relate to Elio from "Call Me By Your Name."
I am certainly no film critic and I barely have an eye to see different symbolism and deeper meanings in movies per se, but I will say that cigarette smoking is overly used and almost encouraged in the movies. It truly makes the actors and characters seem older and it definitely looks super sexy on some.
For example, in “Atomic Blonde” (which is also based during the Cold War, before, during, and after the collapse of the Berlin Wall) Charlize Theron plays the main character, Lorraine, who smokes cigarettes often in the film. And she certainly looks amazing doing so — with a deep inhale, she lets the smoke linger as she slowly opens her mouth and then proceeds to inhale it. She makes it look super appealing, and the women and men all seem to love her.
Anyways, regardless of the time period, again, why make it look so good without any repercussions? At least debunk it in some part of the movie or have a character that says “Ew, gross,’ or “How bad for you…” or “You’re too young to smoke,” etc.We have come a long way from the time when we would promote cigarettes via billboards, commercials, and various other forms of advertisement, but we could do a lot better in the film industry.It is art to a point — but when does it just become popularizing smoking cigarettes through the romanticization and appeal of it? We all know the harmful effects of cigarette smoking but could we push the information and stigma aside to make ourselves look and feel like the oh-so-gorgeous Charlize Theron or Timothée Chalamet?