And now gay coming of age love stories get the full air-brush treatment. This is not to say there weren’t things that worked beautifully in “Call Me by Your Name” but it was kind of sealed off and airless.
Impossibly beautiful people in a stunningly cultured and privileged environment struggling with the same old stuff we’ve been trying to work our way through since forever. Here, at least, director Luca Guadagnino, didn’t go the way he did in “I Am Love”. This time there was no unendurable tragedy that had to be visited on our lovers.
Instead, however, all Guadagnino seems to have done is to create a lush soap opera.
He does a masterful job in showing the growing attraction and the confusion that brought on for young Elio ( Timothée Chalamet) when Oliver (Armie Hammer) touches him. The production values were superb and the acting across the board was top of the line. But there was nothing particularly edgy or subversive about it in any way. Perhaps that was the point. Love is love. Period.
Still if the stakes had been higher, if there had been any sense that something was on the line, the movie would have been that much more powerful. There was never a sense that these two men were going to pay a price for their love. Even Elio’s parents respond lovingly and with incredible sensitivity.
Michael Stuhlbarg as Elio’s father (and Oliver’s professor) delivers a compassionate, understanding, and incredibly articulate soliloquy towards the end that is brilliantly written and 100% unbelievable. The only people who ever speak like this are in the movies.
Even so it was a lovely flight of imagination and wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where every parent was that accepting and caring when their kids are dealing with that devastating first loss?
Unlikely but worth aiming for.