Director: Luca Guadagnino
This is one of those films that I went to see purely based on reviews I had read rather than any word of mouth or knowledge of the actors in it. It is in a way a coming of age film but I think much more than that it is a commentary on relationships and the opportunity to experience something special regardless of the upset when it is over. Elio is seventeen and living with his parents in a Lombardy farmhouse. His father is an archaeologist who employs an American Intern Oliver during the summer months. Elio initially treats Oliver with disdain because he has to give up his bedroom for him and also his perceived arrogance. Elio is preoccupied with his piano playing and composition and there is a nice allegory between his unfinished piano piece and his confused feelings for Oliver. During the summer the local teenage girls come to the family farmhouse for a party and swoon at Oliver’s prowess on the
dance floor and he initially appears to be a hit with one of the girls although her advances are subtly dismissed. Elio on the other hand embarks on what appears to be his first sexual experience with another of the girls. During this fleeting relationship his thoughts are preoccupied with Oliver and he is confused but intent on advancing that relationship. Eventually there is a consummation and a relationship follows that is both intense and confused.
Before Oliver returns to the USA he is asked to go to another town to complete a final piece of work for Elio’s father. Sensing that that Elio has developed a special relationship with Oliver his parents encourage Elio to go with him on the week long trip. The inevitable end of the relationship comes when Oliver completes his work leaving Elio heartbroken at the train station. When he gets home he mopes around for a time until his dad comforts him with the most amazing Valedictory speech that for me sums up the whole point of the film. It was one of the most amazing and powerful pieces of dialogue I have heard in a film for a long time. A very enjoyable film.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
A lazy comparison would be Brokeback Mountain. I don’t think there is much similarity between the films. I think the fact that the love is between two men is irrelevant and misses the point of the film.
It was a special relationship that few of us are lucky enough to experience in its intensity. His father deeply understood that and his message was very much ‘better to have loved and lost than not to have loved at all’. Although it was intensely emotional it was not one of those ‘lump in the throat films’ because the viewer was made to feel they were witnessing something that was good.
Also great cinematography and anyone who loves Italy would love this.