“The meaning of the river flowing is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice, but that some things stay the same only by changing.”
What better description of adolescence, and of those who enter our lives for a time? Call Me By Your Name, adapted from André Aciman’s novel, is a beguiling romance set against the idle heat of a summer in 1980s Italy. The film’s most striking feature is its confident control over pacing to match its narrative, with some scenes drifting lazily as a summer afternoon whilst others lurch forward suddenly as clumsy youthful affection often does. Timothée Chalamet is captivating as Elio, wordlessly depicting both his yearning and his confusion. Elio’s parents are aware of what is occurring but take a largely passive role. And yet, the inevitable experience of heartbreak is all the more profound for his father’s words of support.
“I guess it’s a way of keeping things alive. You know, saving things that will eventually die. If I write it down, then… it’ll last forever.”
Tom Ford’s sophomore film is a haunting, contemplative concoction that trusts its viewers to keep pace. Although to a lesser extent that A Single Man, Ford’s designer eye remains clear in the way he frames and controls each shot. Amy Adams brings melancholy introspection to an unhappily married woman revisiting the past after her ex-husband sends a manuscript of his novel, dedicated to her. Excising his demons through a strange form of disempowered revenge fantasy, half the film is spent within this fiction, which opens with a harrowing sequence on a lonely highway at night. Although the second half is less visceral, it becomes a more intellectual study of strength and weakness. Through Susan’s memories and Edward’s fiction we see both ex-partners working through the mistakes of a failed relationship, which might finally allow for a reconciliation.