By Gopika Nair, Editor-in-Chief
Skip the world—the one demanding your attention, testing your patience, breaking your will—for two hours and submerge yourself in 1980s Italy.
That summer in small-town Bordighera. Swimming in the river. Biking past cobblestoned streets. Transcribing Bach. Reading Ovid. Indulging in wine, love and torpor, the trinity of a lazy, fulfilling summer.
Director Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name probably isn’t your typical Academy Awards contender, and yet, since its screening at film festivals, the movie has received considerable acclaim.
Critics raved about the acting, the cinematography and the movie’s sheer ability to suspend audience’s disbelief enough to immerse themselves in a small Italian town in 1983, living 17-year-old Elio Perlman’s life.
Elio (Timothée Chalamet) meets 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American grad student, when he spends the summer at the Perlmans’ home in Italy.
The movie is based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman. It’s an introspective book, an unapologetic exploration of Elio’s sexuality and desires. Because much of it is subtextual, not a lot happens in terms of plot.
Instead, the book is a back-and-forth ping-pong game of uncertainty and yearning between Elio and Oliver that’s more humorous than it is just angst-driven, with accounts of covert little flirtations dominating the first part of the novel. The movie more or less follows along that same vein, according to reviews.
Call Me By Your Name is unlikely to be a two-hour dream for everyone, especially the ones itching for twists and turns in their moviegoing experience.
So, why is it inching its way up the Oscars contenders’ ladder even though it’s not going to having you on the edge of your seat?
A recent article by Tim Stack for Entertainment Weekly dubbed it the “Moonlight effect.”
At the 89th Academy Awards, Moonlight became the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBT film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. But diversity in Hollywood is lacking.
We’re more likely to seek out authentic representation and find it on television than Hollywood films (remember when Emma Stone was cast to play a half-Asian character in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha?)
But 2017 has admittedly been a pretty good year for diversity in Hollywood.
The Big Sick, a romantic comedy, features Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American actor, as the lead. God’s Own Country is another LGBT movie that has received positive reviews since its debut and more are on the horizon, including Love, Simon and Boy Erased, both set for release in 2018, according to Stack’s article.
Call Me By Your Name is distinctive because it is perhaps one of a handful of LGBT movies without a tragic ending.
Think back to LGBT movies that have been critically renowned. For instance, Brokeback Mountain and Blue is the Warmest Color both encompass a similar theme, where characters struggle to accept themselves and so do others around them.
Don’t get me wrong, that narrative isn’t flawed by any means. It’s a reality for many who identify as LGBT, depending on where they live, how they’re raised, cultural values and many other factors.
But as much as it’s essential to show the struggles of LGBT people, surely in 2017, in a nation that legalized gay marriage, at the very least, acceptance can also be a central part of the narratives people consume.
Hammer, who plays Oliver in Call Me By Your Name, perhaps put it best in an interview with MTV News.
“There’s a great element to this movie where no one pays for being gay,” he said. “There’s no punishment. Nobody gets sick, nobody has a wife that they have to tell, there’s no family drama … it’s just two people who expose themselves and make themselves vulnerable to someone else and that person receives it and does the same. It’s just a beautiful thing to watch happen.”
Call Me By Your Name will have a limited release in U.S. theaters on Nov. 24.