scott aa wilson’s review published on Letterboxd:
The hype train transforms what you ultimately experience. CMBYN had all the good will in the world when it was released here in November, whispered by people in the know as the film you have to see. Now we've seen it, and it's everywhere, and it means re-engaging with a film I originally found to be a hazy, lust-filled paradise.
That hype meant I brushed over issues I can't ignore on the way back down from that mountainous buzz. And that major, massive, malevolent one is the age gap.
It's visually impossible to ignore because Hammer looks older than he is while Chalamet looks younger, and they're already nine years apart. This rewatch was with my family who, upon seeing the trailer, asked if it was about an older man seducing a young boy.
The characters themselves are 17 and 24, which I'm less certain of. Art should reflect life, and I think this age gap is likely common, and it's treated in the film (and source material) with compassion. I'm not convinced that's enough to make it not inappropriate, especially in a film that doesn't mention the age gap.
Art shouldn't be sugar coated or safe, but these are significant distractions from the story being told - which has nothing to do with the age gap - and that's a failing of the film. I'm never able to fully invest in the central love story because of my hang ups about its appropriateness. This could have been easily avoided and becomes a thing by not dealing with it.
It still has so much going for it - the father / son speech is still incredible - but outside of the impossible expectations I artificially met, some things keep me from fully immersing myself like I want to, and like the film is absolutely capable of.