Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Call Me By Your Name and my first solo cinema trip

None of these time markers will be accurate for the time you are reading this post but I promise they were at the time of writing. Earlier this evening, I went to the cinema by myself for the very first time, to see the 5:35pm screening of Call Me By Your Name at the beautiful Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle.

It is now 9:19pm and I feel compelled to write down my thoughts.

I have been looking forward to Call Me By Your Name for what seems like ages. I saw the trailer about three months ago and I instantly loved the look of it. There’s a beautiful song playing in the background, it’s a gay love story, it’s set in Europe, it co-stars Armie Hammer – honestly I couldn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t love it.

I largely forgot about it until about three weeks ago when I saw another advert for it and suddenly realised it was coming out four days later. I had just assumed that it would be a 2018 release when I first saw the trailer and that was one of the reasons I hadn’t let myself get too excited about it. I found out it was adapted from a novel and (even though I was absolutely broke at the time) I bought it the next day.

I devoured the book in two days. The only reason it took me TWO days is because there was a very obvious point where I knew reading any further was going to break my heart and therefore I made the decision to save crying on public transport on my way to work for another day and left it at home instead.

The book is very real. I know that’s not a very good way of describing a novel (my English literature degree is currently crying at that choice of phrasing) but it’s the most accurate way I can think to describe it. It made me feel a lot of things and not just for the characters; it opened a hell of a lot of wounds and unzipped a few mind-suitcases I had mentally sat on to make sure they shut in the first place. I cried solidly for about two hours after I finished the novel, not just for Elio and Oliver but also for myself and I’m not even sure I could tell you why. Reading it was a release.

Novels like that are rare and it made me look forward to the film all the more. 

It took me much too long to actually get round to seeing the film. I kept chickening out for a number of reasons. I’ve been working so much recently that my only free time was after work and I kept deciding I was too tired and that I’d go another day. I was originally going to go with a friend or my mum but after reading the novel I decided I wanted to see it alone but the thought of doing this (which I’ve actually wanted to do since I was 17 but hey it took me five years) filled me with anxiety so I’d put it off because of that too. I finally committed to going to see the film on Friday but the tiny screening sold out and I failed to buy a ticket in time.

So I finally booked a ticket last night and after work I made the short journey into Newcastle city centre and did the very scary thing of going to the cinema by myself.

The film was everything I could have wanted and more.

It was raw and imperfect and authentic and I believed every second of it. I don’t think anyone could ever be accused of praising Call Me By Your Name too highly. The dialogue flowed, Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer disappeared and Elio and Oliver were brought to life, the settings were stunning, the cinematography was flawless, the soundtrack was perfectly complementary, it stayed very true to the feel of the book and Timothée Chalamet’s performance as Elio was Oscar worthy.

There were a number of things I was sad to see left out of the film but at the same time, I wouldn’t want the film to change in any way now that I've actually seen it. A favourite character in the novel was erased from the film and while I would have loved her scenes to have made it in, the really important parts of her were still present, just portrayed through other characters instead.

I was also interested to see how they would do the last section of the book and I was a bit surprised that it was omitted entirely, although I understand why as it would have been difficult to achieve well. This sort of changed the tone of the ending in my opinion but the final scene as the film closed to credits was one of the most stunning endings of any film I’ve ever seen. For that reason, I’m quite happy for the book and the film to standalone, as similar as they may have stayed in other aspects of the story.

I was worried about seeing this on the big screen by myself because the novel had made me so emotional and I am the absolute worst person when it comes to crying at films because I essentially lose all control over my emotions. Despite this, I did manage to hold it all in apart from one solitary tear at the end of the film. I then walked out the screen, sat on a bench by myself in the cinema while I gathered my thoughts (the cinema has a lot of winding corridors so I found a secluded spot) and then I locked myself in a toilet cubicle and had a bit of a cry.

Overall, I would say my lone cinema trip was a positive experience, one I would recommend and something I will definitely be doing again. If it stays in cinemas for another week, I’ll probably try and see Call Me By Your Name again. It is one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

I would really recommend anyone try and see this in a cinema if you catch it in time. Whether you regularly watch queer films or have never seen one before, Call Me By Your Name is falling in love in a film, it's that simple. I really think anyone will feel something from this film, no matter how you identify. I watched it sitting next to an elderly straight couple, so old that the man missed a step on the way out of the seats and fell over (don't worry, he was fine and his wife thought it was hilarious) and if they could get through THAT peach scene, then anyone can.

And my number one recommendation for anyone who wants to get the most out of this beautiful love story is to read the book. I think through the process of reading this blog post you have probably got the gist of how much I loved the film but the book really was something else. I don’t think I could pick one over the other because they work so well as a pairing but the book gives you a much more in depth insight and understanding into what goes on and most importantly, a completely different ending. The film essentially finishes with 50 pages still left in the book. I understand the decision to do so but I’m so glad I got to read those last 50 pages.

Just trust me, go see the film. 

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