W DARREN SCOTT
hen I was growing up, I would watch any gay movie I could get my hands on. We’re talking VHS tapes or screenings on terrestrial television here, in a pre-internet, pre-DVD age. Don’t recoil in horror, this was really only the late 90s, it’s not that long ago. Is it? Don’t answer that.
I remember stumbling across Maurice, probably on Channel 4 – thank you Channel 4, for so many late night moments as a teen – before then investigating further by tracking down the book in my local library. No Amazon wish lists then, kids.
Someone suggested I watched the works of John Waters. I was hooked. My friends were appalled when I excitedly showed them my latest finds. About a decade later these films were suddenly very ‘in’ with the same friends.
Beautiful Thing came along and changed so many people’s worlds. Over the last ten years at Gay Times it’s the film I hear people refer to time and time again. (The TV show equivalent, if you’re interested, is still Queer as Folk.)
But let’s be brutally honest. Though it felt, to me at least, that the floodgates of ‘new’ gay cinema opened in the late 90s, a lot of what followed was bad. Really, really bad. That didn’t stop me from watching, remembering and having a fond place in my heart for them. Well, some of them at least. And no, I’m not naming names.
That hasn’t stopped as the years have gone by. I think it’s fair to say that I’m not always a fan of ‘gay’ cinema – as those many years have passed, I’ve become a little more refined in what I choose to take and enjoy from gay culture. That’s not claiming I’m any sort of expert either, it’s arguably that so many things have got so much better!
So that’s why I was surprised when Call Me By Your Name completely and utterly floored me.
I knew that the word of mouth from film festivals had been good, I knew that there was the, by now to-be-expected (and frankly boring), ‘hot take’ on the casting. But I had no idea the novel could be realised like that. Strangely, it takes me right back to Maurice with both films having been written by James Ivory. Except now I can truly publicly embrace this masterpiece, and proudly shout my love for it from the rooftops.
The cast, the chemistry, the location… the gentle breeze in the trees seen through the window that brings with it a foreboding that the season is about to change. That story of a love that takes you by surprise, hits you like a truck and leaves you winded – and perhaps wounded – forever.
You can see yourself represented, at some point at least, in the emotions of either character.
All those feelings I’d either thought gone or forgotten suddenly rushing back and taking a small screening room of people speechless.
And that beautiful, beautiful music – haunting and stunning and ripping your heart out. I’ve always loved The Psychedelic Furs’ Love My Way, but now I’ll never hear it in the same way again. And I’m glad.
There hasn’t been a film that has affected me, or touched me, this way in 20 years.
When I got the email telling me that my requests to interview the stars of the film had been approved, I was on the bus and got a little bit emotional. It meant that much to me, and was that important that we gave this the special treatment it deserved. Bear in mind that we don’t automatically always get the people we ask for – which might explain why certain other films haven’t necessarily appeared in the print edition of Gay Times...
Now when I look back in the dusty archives of Gay Times (a bit like the Chamber of Secrets, but with a mirrorball) I’m often disappointed that some truly landmark moments in entertainment history are glossed over in a couple of pages. And that’s a cover story! Not so here. I think it’s safe to say that this is the most comprehensive and exhaustive (and possibly exhausting) coverage of this movie in any publication. I hope if you haven’t seen the movie it will whet your appetite, and that if you have seen it, and need time to sit and reflect and remain in Elio and Oliver’s world that little bit longer… Well, this issue is a peach.
“There hasn’t been a film that has affected me, or touched me, the way that Call Me By Your Name has, in 20 years.”