Call Me By Your Name is making waves as the latest “best” big gay movie.
But what really works for me about this film is that it’s not really about being gay, and that’s exactly the sort of gay movie we need.
“So what does one do around here?”
“Wait for summer to end.”
“Yeah? Then what do you do in the winter? Wait for summer to come?”
This is a snapshot of that one, magical summer we’ve all experienced. It was the last true summer, at the twilight of your youth. Still careless with the freedom of childhood, yet emboldened by the independence granted you on behalf of nothing more than your age.
A summer of leisurely breakfasts with the family outside. Casually filling your hours with a book, carried around with you everywhere. Having your first drink, and testing the limits your body can take with it. Riding bikes, in no particular hurry to get anywhere. Stopping to swim anywhere you can. It harkens to a time when families gathered in the evenings at the living room, just to talk and enjoy one another’s company. To read, and play music.
And yes, to fall in love. It’s about the summer love that blossoms seemingly out of nowhere, intense and all-consuming. The heat of discovering passion for the first time, and the belief in that moment that this, all of this, is life. You’ve captured it, and there will always be more.
But there isn’t. Your summer love is as evanescent as that summer will always be. It was the summer that you danced the line between youth and adulthood, unaware that everything changes after this. You didn’t know that summers will soon go by in a blur, lost in the hours it takes to be an adult. You’ll never again engage in such a casual neglect of time, and the relationships you find will never have the same fire as this one, during that first and only summer of discovery. You didn’t know. You simply lived, in a way you only ever know how to do at that one moment of your life.
Someday, you’ll look back on that summer fondly. It will come back to you in blurry photographs, and the books you read that still sit upon your shelf. In the smell of cigarettes you smoked, and breakfast cooking in the kitchen.
When that moment comes, don’t disparage the foolish wastefulness of your youth. Close your eyes, and savor the smells that brought you back. Remember it.