MJ’s review published on Letterboxd:
The meaning of the river flowing is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice, but that some things stay the same only by changing.
It’s that moment when Oliver is dancing to “Love My Way,” drowned in blue and purple neon lights, that allows me to summarize my relationship with this movie in one word: liberation.
Everything about this movie makes me want to be more than who I am. It makes me want to be free. Not a mere moment of freedom, but to feel infinitely and wholly free.
This viewing felt different from every other time I’ve watched it. Somehow it felt new, more special. In a way, it was a more visceral experience. It was as if I was able to peel away the layers of this movie that I thought I’d peeled away already, or maybe it was the layers that I didn’t bother with in the first place. I’m not sure why it felt like this — maybe it has something to do with the screen I watched it on being huge this time, maybe it has something to do with certain feelings that I have now.
“But I was so spellbound that I wrenched myself free from his touch, because a moment longer and I would have slackened like one of those tiny wooden toys whose gimp-legged body collapses as soon as the mainsprings are touched.” In the movie, for me, my attention was always on the way Elio winces in this moment, how he’s trying to avoid revealing something — revealing how easily he could give in to that. But now my attention has shifted to what this act signifies for Oliver, what his touch means. The act of reaching out, touching a shoulder. Gentle. Could be meaningless, could be meaningful. It’s a touch that I’ve come to recognize now — one that could mean nothing, anything, and everything all at once and not at all.
I understand the way Elio looks at himself in the mirror that one evening before dinner. There’s a line that comes much later on, before the midnight scene, where Elio says, “Do I know you?” The look Elio gives himself manages to speak those exact words: do I know you? Feelings that you do want, feelings that you don’t want, that you have, that you don’t have — feelings that somehow have both every right and absolutely no right existing in the first place. “Who are you and why do you feel this?” is the question that’s asked. I know that look, and it’s one I’ve given myself a lot recently.
And then there’s the scene where Elio and Oliver lay in the grass before they kiss. It’s that lull that I recognize. Not a moment of quiet tension leading up to a big moment, but just the lull, the long beat, just laying there. Nothing to say, but maybe a lot you want to say or wish you could say, or maybe there’s nothing you want to nor should say. But I know that long, quiet moment when everything is still and yet somehow moving — it feels like it’ll last forever, or perhaps I just wish it would.
I don’t understand how people can watch the Futile Devices scene and not fall in love with this movie. Perfect, unique, and gorgeous on a technical level, but what it represents for the story as a whole is so powerful. It’s the emotional climax of the movie for me. A moment that represents a major element of this story. I think this is the moment where Elio admits to himself and comes to terms with how much he cares about Oliver. What he wants is more than just desire, more than an impulse. This moment reveals how deeply he cares about Oliver and just how much Elio wants to be with him. It’s a beautiful and brutally honest moment that Elio has with himself.
I love everything about this movie, all the way down to the minute details. I love that this is a portrait of family, love, youth, and desire — all treated with an immense amount of care. It’s a film that I can come back to over and over and over again, and the more I grow and change and experience things, the more this movie will reveal itself and everything it has to offer to me.