LGBT Cinema: Films to Watch This History Month

Call Me by Your Name (2017)

This film floored me and everyone I know who's seen it says the same thing: I’ve never seen anything like it. It was robbed during awards season last year and, for me, was the real winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Based on the novel by André Aciman, the film is set in Northern Italy at the home of the Perlman’s. Every year Mr Perlman takes on an intern and, in the summer of 1983, Oliver turns up. Over the summer Oliver and Elio, Mr Perlman’s son, fall in love. Everything from the music, including original pieces from Sufjan Stevens, and the costume to the location and the interior of the Perlman’s house melt together to create a beautiful vision.  

The standout moment of the film is a speech from Mr Perlman - played by Michael Stuhlbarg - given to his Elio after Oliver has left them. It is an incredible dialogue stunningly performed by Stuhlbarg.

Call Me by Your Name is an unabashed love story. There are no consequences or repercussions for Elio and Oliver for their relationship. Unlike the other two films on this page, and many other films that look at same sex relationships, neither Elio nor Oliver are threatened or disowned for their relationship. It really is, and I cannot reiterate this enough, beauty on a screen.

Maurice (2018)

The novel Maurice by E. M. Forster, on which the film is based, wasn’t published until after the author's death due to its homosexual love story. It was controversial as Forster’s own homosexuality wasn’t widely known or acknowledged at the time.

The story follows Maurice Hall from his years as a student at Cambridge, where he meets Clive Durham and they fall in love. But the pressure of upholding upper-class reputations ultimately ends their relationship and, years later, when the two are reunited, Maurice is drawn to Clive’s servant, Alec Scudder.

Set in Edwardian England, before the First World War, the film shows the lives of homosexual men at a time when homosexuality was a crime. The law, and the social taboos of the time, prohibit their love.

Incidentally, the film was a Merchant Ivory production, directed by James Ivory, who wrote the adapted screenplay of Call Me by Your Name and was originally supposed to direct the film until circumstance took it to Luca Guadagnino.

Maurice was remastered this summer not long after Call Me by Your Name’s success which, with it’s link to Ivory, led people to compare the two. Although they tell two different stories, in different eras where the couples are separated for different reasons, both share a memorable poignancy. The moments that particularly touched me for both films were their endings, two memerizing shots that focused on one half of the couple reflecting on everything that had been and that never could.

La Belle Saison (2015)

La Belle Saison, a French feature, is set in 1971 and looks at the love story between two women in the context of second wave feminism, which was sweeping France, and the world, at the time.

Delphine, a country girl, meets Carole at a feminism meeting at a Paris university and the two begin a relationship. When Delphine’s father suffers a heart attack, she must go home to their farm to help her mother. Carole follows her and helps the family, building a good relationship with Delphine’s mother at the same time. But once Delphine’s mother finds out that they are in fact lovers, Carole has no choice but to return to Paris. Delphine must then decide whether to stay at the farm or to run away back to Paris with Carole.

Two years before La Belle Saison, Blue is the Warmest Colour was released, another French film about a lesbian relationship and the more well-known film of the two. Blue is the Warmest Colour is an honourable mention and compliments La Belle Saison, both telling similar stories in two different time periods. Together they are complimentary love stories, just like Maurice is to Call Me by Your Name.