It’s a bit late to talk about Call Me By Your Name I do appreciate this, but it came up in conversation the other day and my dislike towards the film has arisen again. Now don’t get me wrong… First and foremost, Timothée Chalamet is obviously stunning and I am forever and permanently shook by his beauty. (And Armie Hammer is certainly not far off that either). Also, the film is aesthetically beautiful and has many tender moments that cannot help but tug at those heart strings a bit. Did I mention also that Chalamet is really very pretty…
But, and here is what divides opinion, I just don’t think the movie does much other than reinforce negative gay stereotypes. Let me explain…
First of all, it’s some more assumed straight white males playing two of the now most iconic gay couples in film. (I say assumed because Chalamet has never confirmed either way as far as I can tell, but he’s never publicly identified as a member of the community and has only ever been associated romantically with women). In an ideal world of course I agree that any actor should be able to play any part, but I’m afraid this is no kind of ideal world and until we see LGBTQ+ actors playing LGBTQ+ roles, all those actors need to pipe down.
Secondly, for me it only seems to enforce stereotypes of grooming that the gay male community in particular has had to face for so long. In fact, I got into this argument about the film at a play when an older woman I was with asked whether I’d been in a similar position to Elio. My parents tentatively asked a similar question also. There seems to be some assumption that younger gay men need some kind of older man to help them out the closet. At first I thought this was an experience unique to me, especially as I often spend time with an older crowd, but the more I’ve raised this concern, the more it becomes apparent that other young members of the community have faced similar questioning.
I’m also frankly a bit fed up of the tortured gay male who couldn’t possibly find succesful love, the lover running away to get married kind of thing. I asked ten straight people to name famous gay films they could think of and only three films came up – 5 said Brokeback Mountain, 3 said Call Me By Your Name, and 2 said Moonlight. None of these are really happy, fulfilling, films. But even if they’re not that, in each of these films the tension and sadness of the film is centred around the fact that the characters are tortured homosexuals. Every film needn’t be positive, nor should the great difficulty many members of the LGBTQ+ face beings their trust selves be minimalised. However, it’d be nice to feel that the average film watcher, especially those who are slightly older and likely have less exposure to the community, could think of a fulfilled and comfortable LGBTQ+ couple. The story and emotion could be in the tortured and hidden homosexuality, but it’d be rather enlightened to have a film come out that puts forward other tensions that just happen to be affecting an LGBTQ+ couple.
It’s an aesthetic film (he is soooo pretty) and I hope that the community continues to see large scale representation. However, I personally am hoping to see a normal, comfortable LGBTQ+ couple on the screen who are not tortured because of their sexuality, but because of the challenges faced by everyone (gay, straight, or otherwise).
“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde