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Call Me by Your Name (2017)


Most of the 45 people who came to watch this film enjoyed it, unlike your correspondent who thought there too much gratuitous sex and smoking. The discussion group chose to follow the Privy Council's lead and stand for their deliberations, possibly hence the number was few. The 20 minute introduction to the program included an Italian gentleman apparently able to tell the time based on the weight of his donkey's testicles, a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali called Destino, and a film shot almost entirely under a swimming pool called Breathless. The (six month old) projector was out of commission so we were grateful to the Parish Council for lending the Epson projector we used before buying our own. This was the first film where rear surround speakers were used. Eugene.

The response to something powerful is often silence and for a short time it looked like there would be no discussion at all after ‘Call Me By Your Name.’The final touching sequence, with poignant music by Sufjan Stevens, seemed to say it all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDgR3FNlsUM

However, the discussion faithfuls gravitated towards each other and led by enthusiast Alain, we started to talk about the film. Standing up, while the cinema space was cleared around us. Here are three questions that we explored 1) What was the significance of the Jewish theme?Both Oliver and Elio are Jewish, a Star of David necklace becomes a symbol between the lovers and the film ends with the celebration of Chanukah.The clue perhaps is in the Elio’s mother’s comment about them being ‘Jews of discretion.’An analogy is made between hiding your Jewishness and being gay. Oliver’s Jewish identity is stronger – he is ‘out’ Jewishly. Yet at the end, Elio’s family are seen embracing their faith, whereas Oliver goes ‘back into the closet’. 2) Was Elio being exploited?Some of the discussion group felt Oliver’s age meant he was taking advantage of the teenager. Oliver is meant to be 24 in the movie, whereas some of us wondered if he was in his forties, so perhaps the age issue is not as extreme as we imagined. However, we shouldn’t deny that some relationships between young and older people, of whatever gender, can be abusive. 3) What connected the main feature with the short films?Dreams seemed to be part of (almost) all the films we saw, with Elio’s dream in Bergamo being depicted in a fascinating negative colour sequence. We could compare this with the stunningly surreal Dali/Disney film ‘Destino’, only finally completed in 2003 and Sobolev’s underwater synchronised swimming short movie ‘Breathless.’ We moved off home, glad we had the chance to share some ideas. Like Buddhist monks have walking meditation, we had a standing discussion and it led to real food for thought. Anne Goldstein

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