Love My Way


One of the most astonishing films of the year has found its way onto UK screens in advance of its premiere in the USA. Based on a novel considered a classic of the Queer canon by Andre Aciman, adapted for the screen by legendary James Ivory and directed by the Italian sensualist, Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name is that now-rare object: a love story that has no human antagonist and relies instead on nuance, connection and emotion to tell its tale of heartbreak. While there have been murmurs of dissent around the age gap between the protagonists leading to charges of grooming and accusations of an inappropriate relationship being glorified onscreen, I suspect the film will find its feet with audiences responding to its powerful depiction of honest emotions and its ability to transport audiences along its quest to decipher the mystery of love.

It is relevant to note that love in the film is conceived of in a holistic sense – there is, of course, romantic longing, physical passion, amorous relations; but the filmmakers ground their tale upon familial, particularly parental, and even more specifically, paternal love. In a monologue lifted almost entirely from the source novel, the protagonist’s father, Mr Perlman, urges his son, who has just found and lost a great first love, to allow himself to feel the full extent of his experience, culminating in this exhortation:

Right now you may not want to feel anything. Maybe you never want to feel anything… But feel something you obviously did… We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!
— Mr Perlman | Call Me By Your Name

This kind of tender, compassionate encouragement from a parent to a child is so often lacking in the real world that to see it portrayed forthrightly and honestly in a film is a triumph in many ways. Reflecting on this scene, and the film in general (which is masterfully made with wonderfully realized performances and a palpable sense of place that transports the audience entirely to somewhere in northern Italy in the summer of 1983), I am optimistic that it will reach a wide enough audience so that its message of love – patient, kind, gentle, humble, honouring, forgiving, protective, trusting, hopeful, persevering, truthful – might find its way into the world.