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Call Me By Your Name is an Italian movie that is centered on a romantic relationship between two men. Elio Perlman is a curious young boy aged 17-years old who falls in love with Oliver, a 24-year-old American Jewish scholar who visits their home to help his father in research. The main bone of contention in the film is sexual attraction between people of the same gender and the issues that they face ranging from trying to have normal relationships of a man and a woman so as to fit in the society, the fear that they experience when contemplating how to deal with the sexual attraction towards a person who they consider otherwise and many more (Dineen, 2017). Elio struggles with sexual feelings towards Oliver who is older than him. Because they spend a lot of time together walking, swimming, biking, and much more, they unknowingly become attracted to one another. Both of them try to read the other’s minds to understand whether the feeling is mutual and at last, their fears subside and they become a couple.
My context in this film is obsessive love portrayed by Elio coupled with his shyness and fear to confess it to Oliver because he fears rejection. Love is a sensitive thing that can influence people’s lives. Strong love is dangerous if it is not reciprocated. Moreover, if love is directed to a person who seems not concerned or who is somehow unlikely to reciprocate then it becomes a problem (Pachankis, Cochran, & Mays, 2015). Gay relationships face a lot in society although there have been recent developments that have made it easier for gays to date. Being attracted to a person of the same sex is challenging based on the fact that there is no guarantee that the other person will love you back (Doyle, David Matthew, and Lisa Molix, 2014). Also, there is a lot of stigmas that come as a result of being gay. One loses a lot of opportunities because of their sexual orientation because people will always be judgmental. Some of the problems that gays face include fewer job opportunities, lesser friends, bullying, hate attacks, and general discrimination (Doyle et al., 2014). All these made Elio to be confused about himself because he did not know how Oliver would respond if he expresses his feelings towards him, and feared that his family would begin to see him in a bad way.
One of the significant things that the film Call Me By Your Name informs me about are the challenges that young gay people face. The film offers me a better understanding of the confusion that young people who are different from the rest pass through as they mature and get to understand themselves better. Elio is doing well at school because he spends most of his times reading. Moreover, his parents are supportive and are lucky enough to provide him with the life that he wants. However, he is confused about his sexuality. First, he gets into an affair with Marzia, a local girl who of the same age as his hoping that that will be the source of his happiness. However, he still finds himself fantasizing and thinking about Oliver. For instance, Elio sneaks into the room that Oliver sleeps in and wears his swimming trunks as he masturbates. This takes place around the time when he has first sex with Marzia, his girlfriend. The movie uses Elio to inform the reader about the struggles that young gay people face while trying to seek happiness as they mature
The relationship between Elio and Marzia is not honest because it is more of a cosmetic affair. Elio wants to have a girlfriend so as to prove to his family and the people around him that he is straight (Dineen, 2017). However, deep inside him, he is struggling with strong feelings towards Oliver. Moreover, the film provides a picture of Elio trying to come to terms with his sexuality as he attempts to win Oliver over. A good example is when he touches Oliver’s penis through his clothes while they are in a room. Oliver responds by pushing Elio away because he also does not want to give in easily before being certain of what he is doing (Dineen, 2017). Being an older person, Oliver did not want to be the one spoiling Elio who was in the critical age of adolescence. Therefore, I was glad that the film gave me a clear description of the struggles that young gay lovers face.
One counterintuitive aspect of the film is the ease with which Elio and Oliver’s relationship encounters. It is uncommon for a young person such as Elio to be confident enough to approach an older person. Although it is true that one can fall in love with anyone, Elio’s falling in love is extraordinary (Dineen, 2017). First of all, despite the fact that Elio and Oliver spend a lot of time together, it only happens during vacations. Therefore, one cannot say that they spend a significant amount of time that made them fall in love. Another odd thing about Elio and Oliver’s relationship is the fact that Oliver should not engage in sex with a minor such as Elio. Oliver is considered more mature and therefore should not accept Elio’s advances but this does not happen. Although he was reluctant to accept the advances at first after they become a couple they barely hide their affair from their parents. Another aspect that is out of the ordinary for Elio and Oliver’s relationship is that Elio revealed the feelings that he had for Oliver. Elio is depicted as a shy boy who spends most of his time alone. By revealing his feelings towards another man to his father is paradoxical because it is not easy for a young man to do that let alone a shy person.
Elio’s parents are also extra-supportive since the beginning and although they try to steer him in the right direction by telling him to date Marzia instead of Oliver, they seem not to be against the affair. It is unusual that the parents do not try to separate Elio with Oliver so as to stop the obsession that Elio confesses to having (Clark, 2018). Most parents would be very critical about Oliver and Elio’s friendship because they do not want their child to become gay. Being gay comes with a lot of negativity and no parent would encourage their child to be that. Most of them do whatever it takes to steer their children in the right direction including taking them to counseling sessions and also dictating their children’s movement. However, this is not the case with Elio’s parents (Clark, 2018). Therefore, there are many paradoxes surrounding Oliver and Elio’s relationship.
Oliver does not end up with Elio although they are depicted to be so much in love. The reason behind this might be because Oliver was not bold enough to pursue his love. After Oliver goes back to America, he stops contacting Elio and ends up getting married to a woman despite having shown that he is attracted to men. This may be interpreted that not all young gay partners end up together due to various reasons. The major reason is the fear of stigma. Oliver may have feared the reproach that comes together with being a gay and therefore decided to marry a woman. Despite Elio’s father being in support of their affair and wishing them the best, Oliver is not convinced that he will be appreciated by the larger community. On the other hand, Elio seems never to fall out of love with Oliver. Even after they meet during his father’s burial, Elio tries to win Oliver over by telling him to look straight in his eyes and call him by his eyes. This shows that some gay people are ready to face whatever challenges that may come with being gay because they believe in love.
Mohr and Sarno (2016) maintain that many gay persons would rather stay in the closet because coming out poses a lot of challenges. Although there has been a positive improvement towards the advocacy for gay rights, many goals remain unachieved. For instance, gay people still face hate crimes. Gay people face violence on a daily basis because some people think that they should not be allowed to live and that they are a disgrace to humanity (Mohr & Sarno, 2016). Every year gay people’s deaths are reported in even developed countries such as America, the U.K., and Italy despite people being sensitized about the significance of respecting each other’s rights. This might be the major reason why Oliver chose not to live as a gay man.
At the time of production of this film which is 2017, same-sex marriage was still a major controversy. Up until now, there has not been an adequate understanding of the pressure that gays encounter especially at an early age. I think that the film was meant to sensitize people about the need to be themselves unapologetically. There are many people who are living a lie because they fear to be stigmatized. What they need to understand is that there could be nothing such as gays if people in previous ages kept quiet about it (Puckett, Jae A., et al, 2017). The film is aimed at sensitizing people about not suppressing their feelings because they are going to hurt others in the process. Speaking up for oneself helps others who cannot speak for themselves. Elio was portrayed as a young person but he was fearless and did not fear to express his feelings (Puckett, Jae A., et al, 2017). After realizing that he is lying to himself by dating a woman, he decided not to fear anything but to pursue his love. That is why he approached Oliver despite him being older and more experienced.
The film Call Me By Your Name is contextualized on the challenges that gay people face especially the young ones who are discovering themselves. The name of the film shows how friends and lovers should complement one another. I chose the theme of same-sex love because everything in the movie revolves around the relationship between Oliver and Elio who are gay lovers. Young gay people undergo a lot of challenges because they are discovering themselves. Elio is only seventeen years when he finds out that he strongly loves Oliver who is also a man. At first, he is confused about it but cannot control his strong emotions which make him to even masturbate while fantasizing about Oliver. Another challenge is that Elio does not know how Oliver would respond if approached. After seeking his parent’s help, Elio is convinced to get into a relationship with Marzia, a girl from the neighborhood. However, this does not help because Elio cannot get over Oliver. In the end, Elio and Oliver become a couple with the support of Elio’s parents. This film presents many paradoxes because Elio and Oliver do not face the common challenges that gays face in the contemporary world. One major challenge that gays face is rejection by their immediate family members who do not want to be associated with them. However, Elio’s parents do not oppose his sexual orientation much and even his father encourages him by telling him that he faced the same when he was young. As the film ends, Oliver marries a woman and bears four children. this shows that many gay people live a lie because they fear the challenges that they might face if they come out of the closet. The film does a good job in talking about problems that gay face through the narration of Elio.
Adams, Tony E. Narrating the closet: An autoethnography of same-sex attraction. Routledge, 2016.
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Clark , David. “Call Me By Your Name – and Why Love and Friendship Were ...” The Conversation , 24 Jan. 2018, www.sbs.com.au/topics/sexuality/fast-lane/article/2018/01/26/call-me-your-name-and-why-love-and-friendship-were-better-understood-premodern.
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Puckett, Jae A., et al. "Differences across contexts: Minority stress and interpersonal relationships for lesbian, gay, and bisexual women." Psychology of Women Quarterly 41.1 (2017): 8-19.
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