The famed Italian film director Luca Guadagnimo’s new film on same-sex desire, “Call Me By Your Name,” normalizes homoeroticism, if we are to believe critic Manhola Darghis’ superb review.
A strong narrative, writes Darghis, tethers the film’s “sensuous surface” with its “churning feeling.” We get an inkling of the intertwining of surface and depth in the following description of slow but sure irradiation of seduction between the two young male characters in the film, Elio and Oliver:
Elio and Oliver’s affair begins slowly with each circling the other at a distance, conveying the kind of nonchalance that’s a shield for interest. Oliver proves far better at this part of the game; he knows more than to look too long and too hard. Elio’s furtive, ducking glances, by contrast, tend to linger, hovering in the air like questions. He’s increasingly curious about this new guest, but soon inexplicably (to Elio, at least) irked by him as well, leading Elio to complain to his parents about Oliver’s standard signoff (“later”). But when Elio scribbles a private rebuke in a notebook, chastising himself for responding harshly toward Oliver, it’s as if he were writing an apologetic love letter.
Having seen several films based on same-sex desire–“Blue is the Warmest Color,” “My Summer of Love,” “Carol” and “A Single Man,” among others–I need to say this: Films featuring women lovers end up producing more unnecessary objectification, eruption (of negative emotions) and subterranean violence than films featuring male one’s. A pro-male bias?
Seen through Ms. Darghis’ lens, “Call Me By Your Name” is awash in sensuality and the soft touch of normal romance, twin attributes of the “real” that I missed in the films where women fall in love with one another.