'Call Me By Your Name': Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer movie hold up? – USA TODAY

The idyllic Italian countryside. The sexy stolen glances. The fireplace scene that launched 1,000 memes.
Call Me By Your Name” soared to the pop-culture stratosphere when it arrived in theaters this week in 2017. Timothée Chalamet‘s performance as Elio earned him wide acclaim and an Academy Award nomination as lead actor, while James Ivory won the Oscar for best screenplay. Critics mostly hailed the unabashedly queer love story that tracked 17-year-old Elio’s infatuation with, lust, love and heartbreak for his parents’ older summer houseguest Oliver (Armie Hammer).
Many appreciated at the time that this wasn’t a coming out story.
“So much mainstream representation of queer people, especially when it’s pitched to a wider audience, is often about trauma, or things that are difficult,” says Cameron Crookston, a lecturer in English and cultural studies at the University of British Columbia. “And this wasn’t a movie that was about that.”
But five years later, the film’s reputation as a cultural touchstone is up for debate, given that the actors aren’t queer, criticisms of LGBTQ representation in media have only increased and the fallout of Hammer’s rape and sexual abuse allegations last year remain top of mind. 
Yes, ‘Bros’ flopped at the box office.But Hollywood must keep making LGBTQ movies, anyway.
Director Luca Guadagnino still receives letters about the movie every month; some from fans discovering it for the first time, others after rewatching.
“It’s very beloved, (and) it’s very heartwarming that that movie had this kind of capacity of touching people,” Guadagnino says of the film, based on the 2007 novel by André Aciman.
Chalamet agrees: “As we talked about the time, the experience was just tremendously sincere.”
Aaron Lecklider, professor of American studies at University of Massachusetts Boston, says the film represents a same-sex relationship and is artfully constructed. But is a film like “Call Me By Your Name,” which is overtly white, European and decadent, LGBTQ canon, he asks? Or is “Moonlight,” focusing on Black queer people and intersections of class and family structures, more likely to fit that bill?  
Timothée Chalamet:‘Bones and All’ star talks cannibalism, gore and … Lucky Charms?
“That for me is a bit more of a touchstone for the direction of queer cinema,” Lecklider says. He says mainstream box office success “Brokeback Mountain” also thought carefully about the relationship between class and masculinity in ways “Call Me by Your Name” didn’t.
Today, queer people look for something else in their gay movies, says Alfred L. Martin, Jr., author of “The Generic Closet: Black Gayness and the Black-Cast Sitcom.”
“A lot of folks have moved into a space where either gay representation is boring, or they’re looking for stuff that is less preachy and more fun,” he says. Think “RuPaul’s Drag Race” or “Fire Island” over a “Call Me By Your Name.”
Martin wonders, too, if the film’s legacy might be that it encouraged people to talk about whiteness in queer cinema. He also doubts we’ll be talking about it in 10, 20 or 50 years.
A flashback:Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet fall in love in sensuous Oscar contender ‘Call Me By Your Name’
Crookston disagrees, and reminds that “a bittersweet love story is still very, very rare in terms of films that make it to the mainstream for queer people.” It’s also one about sex and desire – something many queer films shy away from. While it failed to showcase explicit sex, the film conveyed sexual energy. And who could forget about the peach?
Hmm:Why ‘Brokeback Mountain’ still stuns 15 years later, as a universal love story and LGBTQ triumph
It’s unclear, but the star power of Hammer certainly gave the film a higher profile.
“I tend to think that in a lot of cases where the filmmaking and the script explore themes that are profoundly touching to particular people within a community, they tend to be more forgiving,” Lecklider says.
Still, “when there are so few representations that LGBT viewers can identify with, and then we find out as viewers that in fact, those actors are cis or straight, it is very disappointing because audiences are desperately looking for role models,” Jane Ward, author of “The Tragedy of Heterosexuality,” previously told USA TODAY.
Conversations always unfold about whether queer actors should play queer roles. “Bros” tried to solve that equation with an all-LGBTQ main cast, though it underperformed at the box office.
Hollywood’s casting dilemma:Should straight, cisgender actors play LGBTQ characters?
Hammer’s alleged victims say he sent DMs about wanting to bite, restrain, brand and rape romantic partners. Will people be able to watch this movie and not cringe when Oliver flirts (aggressively) with Elio? Depends on whom you ask. 
“Clearly, all of the controversy surrounding Armie Hammer is going to shape the way people watch movies the same way that all kinds of things that we know about actors always shape the way audiences watch movies,” Lecklider says.
Crookston says some people may see Hammer’s role as a deal-breaker for engaging with the movie at all. Regardless of where people fall on that divide, it’s now a conversation that didn’t exist five years ago. (Plus, Guadagnino hinted in a Variety interview the character of Oliver could return in a sequel.)
Interesting:Armie Hammer allegations an example of what distinguishes BDSM from sexual violence
The issue of Elio and Oliver’s age difference – which the book and movie have been criticized for – likely would bother or not bother the same people today.
“There’s a lot of folks for whom any age difference is squeamish, and certainly the age 18 carries a powerful weight in American culture as being the age in which consent becomes possible,” Lecklider says.
And perhaps that speaks to “Call Me By Your Name” as a whole: Those who loved it will love it still, and those who soured on it might sour more. Either way, the idyllic Italian countryside hasn’t escaped everyone’s minds just yet.
Our 2017 review:‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a first-love story to savor

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