This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jumpy’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
You ever wish you didn't go watch a film with your grandparents? It happened, and I'm surprised that my lowkey homophobic grandma didn't start bashing on the film, but instead my open minded grandpa did. "It was bad; nothing happened throughout and it went on for too long" he said. And while I'd like to leave it just there, because I very much agree, I had more than enough time during the film to reflect on why I felt that way.
Call Me By Your Name is a film about sexual exploration and handling emotions that you don't understand as a pretentious 17-year-old douchebag. Then have those emotions manipulated by an experienced Mr. Grey. The film, to me, feels like Fifty Shades of Grey if handled vaguely and with a competent director, but without upping up the writing. It feels shallow, mundane and void of any emotion up until the last 15 minutes, which are, in my opinion, the best part of the film.
What those last 15 minutes try to deliver to the audience is something I can get behind, but is also the less subtle aspect of the film. Its reveals that one the main character's dad supports his gay experience, and that's nice and all, until I realized that it was bashing it over the head of those old men that just don't get homosexuals. "Time has changed" is something that is said in the film, and such as other examples that I can't remember, that feels like it's trying to explain to homophobes how things are nowadays.
Unfortunately, this nice message, that I already found a little weak, is bogged down by the presentation of the gay experience, which as I said, felt very shallow to me. Why is that? Is it because the characters aren't explored even though the runtime is the same as a Marvel film? Sure, but it's much more than that; their relationship isn't believable nor does it feel genuine. Your characters can be left vague, just like in Carol or Moonlight, but if you can somehow translate that vagueness into love and understandment then I would be giving a reason to care.
This film's way of translating that love is, "OoOOoOo, look! They're kissing! A lot! And now they shall bang. Let's go swimming now. Back to banging again!"; it doesn't feel like anything, and you may say, "well yeah that's the point." So fuck me for wanting to get invested in the film because that's all you're supposed to chew on throughout the very, very long second act. Not to mention that I found myself uncomfortable throughout many scenes, especially the famous (wish it was infamous) peach scene, which I actually had to look away a couple of times throughout it. (Pretty sure one may assume here that I'm not comfortable with the gay sex, but I felt like this with the straight sex, too [just not as much]).
I'm glad people have been able to get something out of this, but I can't see how so many can love it unless they projected themselves into the characters or felt something that I couldn't see or feel. The characters serve barely any character, it serves no story and it does 100% feel like a gay version of Fifty Shades of Grey. The scenes themselves aren't long enough and usually abruptly end, making them feel incomplete and pointless. I already wasn't expecting much from this, but I wasn't expecting to dislike it as much as I did. Bummer.