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Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)

Publié le par Kevin

Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)
Oliver and Perlman's fascination for the male body brought them to forget that a body is someone.

Oliver and Perlman's fascination for the male body brought them to forget that a body is someone.

The fact that Call Me By Your Name should be so widely perceived as a beautiful romance is absolutely terrifying.

---Not because Oliver and Elio are men. Not because there’s an age gap. Not because Elio is sad at the end of the film and Oliver marries someone else--

Because this story is flatly NOT the one of a love story and there’s absolutely NOTHING beautiful about what happens in this movie, that is the destruction of a 17 years old kid by two crazy parents and a morbidly narcissistic man.

Here's a review that perceives the film as being about an abusive relationship and not a love story.

 

(Edit: In order to make things clear: a beautiful love story between a 17ish and a 24ish man that they keep secret for fear they might be judged for it, is beautiful. I'm not denying the possibility. I'm just saying it's not the case here.)

 

The Perlmans have been coming in their beautiful villa in the north of Italy for ages. Elio has known Marzia for ages. They both slowly developed feelings for each other (real, healthy ones, even if I believe Elio was more interested in Chiara) and it is only natural that on this 1983 summer they should have formed a couple and had their first love and sex experiences together.

The problem is that Elio's homosexual father is married to a heterosexual woman but they raise their kid as if they were both heterosexual. 

It’s very important to realise that if Call Me By Your Name was about some kind of secret and forbidden love story, it would have made no sense to make Elio’s father a homosexual.

Applaud the post-traumatic propanga. "What you had with Oliver was beautiful. Marzia is meaningless. I've always hated the little slut... but Oliver ? Damn I would have banged him hard." "Dad, you do realise that I'm not you ?" "I do, but could you call me by your name son ? Just once."

Applaud the post-traumatic propanga. "What you had with Oliver was beautiful. Marzia is meaningless. I've always hated the little slut... but Oliver ? Damn I would have banged him hard." "Dad, you do realise that I'm not you ?" "I do, but could you call me by your name son ? Just once."

Mr Perlman is homosexual, and Mrs. Perlman always has a lit cigarette in her hand: she is frustrated sexually***.  The direct consequence of that is that she’s developed a peculiar relationship with her son (slightly/borderline incestuous).

*** It's my fourteenth clue of a subtext.

And here you have a father who wants to vicariously get his wasted youth back through his son, and a mother who doesn’t want to see him grow up and go to another woman.

This woman takes initiatives to have her 17 year old boy get sodomized by a 7 years older stranger. And by "takes initiatives" I mean that she is probably picturing it in these shots, and it arrouses her. (sorry for the crudeness of these claims).
This woman takes initiatives to have her 17 year old boy get sodomized by a 7 years older stranger. And by "takes initiatives" I mean that she is probably picturing it in these shots, and it arrouses her. (sorry for the crudeness of these claims).

This woman takes initiatives to have her 17 year old boy get sodomized by a 7 years older stranger. And by "takes initiatives" I mean that she is probably picturing it in these shots, and it arrouses her. (sorry for the crudeness of these claims).

How healthy does this sound to you ? Not much, does it ?

Perlman has a student spend six weeks with them in order to work on his PhD. Where does the guy sleep ? In Elio’s bed. Could this have been more symbolic ? They put a man in their son’s bed. (Edit: Actually this is even more meaningful than I thought it was. Putting Oliver in Elio's bed means 2 things: 1-They want Elio to have sex with Oliver  2-They want Oliver to be their son).

Not only do they destroy his privacy by doing so, but the movie makes the meaning of this even more obvious by putting Marzia in Elio’s bed at the beginning of the film and by making her react exactly as if she knew what was to happen. She’s worried. She leaves without explaining why. She’s quite cold with Oliver.

This bed was the bed in which Marzia and Elio should have made love for the first time of their lives... if Elio's parents hadn't been psychopaths. They'll end up in the attic ! The place of forbidden, shameful, monstrous secret things !

This bed was the bed in which Marzia and Elio should have made love for the first time of their lives... if Elio's parents hadn't been psychopaths. They'll end up in the attic ! The place of forbidden, shameful, monstrous secret things !

First word of the movie "Ursupateur." Elio knows what to expect from Oliver and at the same time he mispronounces the word.

First word of the movie "Ursupateur." Elio knows what to expect from Oliver and at the same time he mispronounces the word.

She is perfectly aware that putting a man in Elio’s room is telling her to clear off and stay away.

And so the farce starts. Elio doesn’t like Oliver, for perfectly justifiable reasons: Oliver is arrogant. (Elio at 16min40s). But strangely enough, both his father and his mother are going to defend the American, worse, they are subtly going to forbid their son from disliking him.

You’re amongst intellectuals here, the violence is a lot more subtle and a lot more pervasive.

Very simply, Elio is influenced by his parents. Vexed by their enthusiasm towards Oliver, he is going to try and prove himself that he can “seduce” the man, not in a romantic way, but in the sense that he is going to want his skills to be acknowledged by him.

The “apricot etymology” scene is quite meaningful.

Both Annella and M. Perlman (the father who has no name), fancy Oliver and they know it. Oliver corrects Perlman on the topic of the etymology of the word “apricot” and emasculates him symbolically. Elio witnesses his dad getting emasculated in front of his mother, and nobody seems to mind. Elio witnesses his dad acknowledging the fact that Annella should be more attracted to Oliver than himself… that which is perfectly understandable as Perlman is homosexual and doesn’t care about being attractive in the eyes of Annella. But what’s important here, is that Elio doesn’t know about all this and thus assimilates Oliver as a superior man to his dad. For a boy who is entangled in an (non-consummated) incestuous relationship with his mother, it means a lot.

"You were trying to show off the power you have over me Mr Perlman, let me ridicule you and show off in return."

"You were trying to show off the power you have over me Mr Perlman, let me ridicule you and show off in return."

And thus it carries on. Elio becomes irrepressibly drawn to the idea of seducing Oliver, not because he is in love with him but because the situation messes him up. He is looking for his parent’s recognition; he is looking for psychological stability.  

This goes hand in hand with the very morbid title of the movie: Call Me By Your Name. No love story can revolve around the idea that the two lovers can swap their positions/identities. Love is other oriented; otherwise it’s a narcissistic psychopath who is devouring a prey.

Elio wants to be Oliver because he is firmly convinced that his parents wished that he were Oliver… because both these idiots are attracted sexually to the student and Elio cannot know that, he thinks he is in a normal family. And he doesn’t even know what sex and sexuality are yet.

Elio discovering himself homosexual isn’t a coming of age story, it’s an alienation. Elio is heterosexual. He is a heterosexual kid forced into a homosexual relationship with a pervert manipulator in order to correspond to his parents’ expectations and desires.

They finally had sex. Elio is disturbed and ANGRY about something he will never say. How romantic.

They finally had sex. Elio is disturbed and ANGRY about something he will never say. How romantic.

They go for a romantic post-sex swim. Yep, there's about a mile between them. What a beautiful love story.

They go for a romantic post-sex swim. Yep, there's about a mile between them. What a beautiful love story.

If you look closely at Oliver’s behaviour you’ll spot several things:

First, the older student subtly rebukes Elio a few times so that the teenage boy has to work to get his approval back.

Oliver never lets Elio know what he does. He appears and disappears randomly. He lets the boy worry, letting someone worry is a way of forcing someone to think of you, and to force someone to mistake worries with feelings. Being scared of having someone angry at you doesn't mean you love that person. Even less when that person is associated with your parents' approval of yourself.

Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)

Elio never worries about Marzia. Not because he doesn’t like her, but because he knows where he stands when it comes to her.

Oliver answers a message from Elio with “grow up.” Everything is said about the morbidity of their relationship in these two words. If you’re fu***ng flirting with a kid, the last thing you should allow yourself to say is “grow up.” What about you date someone your own age ? Also, the note he got from Elio was already a very disciplined version of an “over-the-top” one. Imagine how Elio must feel when he reads this “grow up” as an answer to the most mature thing he could have written.

Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)
Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)

After they’ve made love, Elio doesn’t feel enthusiastic or elated. He becomes depressed and avoids Oliver. That’s not what would have happened with Marzia. Because he’s happy with Marzia. You remember Marzia ? Elio's super nice and smiley girlfriend ? What about the fact that Oliver never asks anything about her ? Explain to me how that doesn’t make him a worthless individual not to tell Elio that he cannot accept to make love with a girl who’s in love with him while they’re having their own little secret story. Explain to me why he gets a pass at having zero consideration for anybody and that's fine.

Oliver destroys Elio and what he indirectly inflicts Marzia is extremely serious too. The fact that he should never talk about it doesn't make him innocent.

Another Creepy moment is when they are again swimming but the teenager is also writing music. Oliver asks "what are you thinking about," he has this desire to be in the boy's head. Elio answers "it's private", Oliver counter-attacks "then i'll go see your mum." It's so subtle that you can hardly see how this could be any violent. Still, Elio jumps out of the water, nearly destroying his notebook, and pushes Oliver away from his mum: the kid is scared of seeing Oliver take his place or take his father's place. These dynamics are very serious, and Annella reinforces them by always taking Oliver's side. Elio will call her a witch at some point, for no obvious reason.

Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)
Oliver's threat sounds like a joke, the thing is, it totally works on Elio.
Oliver's threat sounds like a joke, the thing is, it totally works on Elio.

Oliver's threat sounds like a joke, the thing is, it totally works on Elio.

Also, at the end of the movie, there's this beautiful moment when Elio guesses that Oliver called to tell him that he is going to marry. Why would he guess ? Because deep down he knows that the whole story is a lie. He knows that Oliver is a sadistic man who revels in destroying him. 

And destroying the boy he does, through a constant "attention back-and-forth." For example, at the end when they spend a week together. Oliver flirts with Elio in the street, brings him to a kiss but then suddenly withdraws himself and runs away because he "heard music." The purpose of this is only to make Elio feel how powerless he is in front of his attraction while Oliver is entirely independant from him.

Also, he already did this to Elio several times. Earlier, it was because they were in public that he couldn't kiss the boy.

This doesn't exist in the world of passionate love. This doesn't exist in the world of love. This doesn't exist in the world of respect. This only exists in the world of manipulation, cruelty and sadism. You cannot choose to see a love story in this movie, there isn't one. This doesn't exist in the world of passionate love. This doesn't exist in the world of love. This doesn't exist in the world of respect. This only exists in the world of manipulation, cruelty and sadism. You cannot choose to see a love story in this movie, there isn't one.

This doesn't exist in the world of passionate love. This doesn't exist in the world of love. This doesn't exist in the world of respect. This only exists in the world of manipulation, cruelty and sadism. You cannot choose to see a love story in this movie, there isn't one.

The music comes from the radio of a car. For no reason, Oliver starts dancing and flirting with a woman. And he ends up asking Elio to translate what she says. He is asking his lover to partake into his flirting with a woman. Pure initiative of a psychopath who revels into destroying people.

Their relationship is never about love, but about ego. Oliver devours Elio's ego, like he would bite into a fruit.

The "later" trick is absolutely fascinating and is very revealing. Elio explains that he finds Oliver's "Later" arrogant. Why does he raise this point ? Because Oliver vexed him on their first bike trip by suddenly ditching him with a "later." Of course, everybody tells Elio that he is imagining things, there's nothing wrong with "later." And thus, the boy is brought to believe that the reason why he was vexed is because he didn't want Oliver to go, he didn't like to be dismissed by Oliver, because... he has feelings for him ? 

It sounds far-fetched doesn't it ? I wish I could snap my fingers and make people realize how much this is common. This is basic manipulation. Because, of course, Oliver purposely left just a little bit too suddenly. He truly was impolite. He totally measured the impact of his behavior on the kid. 

Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)

There are two things that I find particularly vicious in all this and it's when Oliver tastes Elio's sperm and gives him a short fellatio. Both these degrading initiatives convey the feeling that Oliver truly isn't in a dominating position, they're like a "look at what you make me do ! I'm obviously not in control."

Except that they're exactly the kind of initiatives in which a manipulator revels. They are not degrading for him, on the contrary they are gratifying in that he can witness the huge impact these have on Elio. When he sucks the boy off, he does so because he's worried of having lost a bit of his influence.

Desperate move to show Elio that he can give him an erection, after the failed attempt of the previous evening.

Desperate move to show Elio that he can give him an erection, after the failed attempt of the previous evening.

So he does this, authoritatively, five seconds. A pure pathological initiative of manipulation that is going to confuse Elio entirely. 

It's not something emotional, it's not a joke, it's not a request, it's not a display of physical attraction, it's a pure "Oliver pulling a string." And that kind of behavior is specifically the one of a psychopath.

It's the same thing with his desire to hear the real Bach version of what Elio is playing on the piano. Or with the "it's the kindest thing I've been told in weeks." All lies perfectly used in order to obtain a specific answer from Elio.

"I would kiss you if I could." Except that he perfectly can at that moment. And he is supposed to say this line as an expression of his happiness to see Elio, but says it like a robot. No kiss, no warmth, just seduction and the disembodied information: "I'm happy that you came." Pure string pulling.

"I would kiss you if I could." Except that he perfectly can at that moment. And he is supposed to say this line as an expression of his happiness to see Elio, but says it like a robot. No kiss, no warmth, just seduction and the disembodied information: "I'm happy that you came." Pure string pulling.

Also, what about the fact that the freer Elio and Oliver are to enjoy their relationship, the more Elio obviously collapses as an individual.

The "sperm tasting" is very subtle in that it's hard to see it as a sexual abuse or aggression when it totally is. Elio is shocked by Oliver's behaviour, and he feels violated, and ends up completely falling appart psychologically. It's not love. it's not harmony. it's not appreciation. It's a confident man abusing a fragile and desoriented boy.

The "sperm tasting" is very subtle in that it's hard to see it as a sexual abuse or aggression when it totally is. Elio is shocked by Oliver's behaviour, and he feels violated, and ends up completely falling appart psychologically. It's not love. it's not harmony. it's not appreciation. It's a confident man abusing a fragile and desoriented boy.

There was a love story in this movie, it was between Marzia and Elio and it transformed into a nightmare.

Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)
Call Me By Your Name: Oliver is a manipulator (1300 words)
Commenter cet article

Midnight 08/05/2021 19:27

Amazing! okay i have a long story to share, so bear with me.
When I was 16-17, I had my first love, and at its end i was (maybe still am) shattered. I watched the movie and I completely saw myself in Elio. Every thought, every feeling he had seemed to mirror my own . I related to him mostly about the DESPERATION and pining and being so deeply in love that it made me forget myself. But here's the catch: my first love was the most abusive thing that happened to me. And keep in mind, I had been sexually abused multiple times by the time I fell for this boy, and yet the entire affair with him (which had nothing physical at all) was the worst thing that had happened to me. I liked this boy at first, knowing full well he had a girlfriend, but I couldn't help myself. And the boy kept pulling on my strings, he seemed to be just at the edge of flirting, but I couldn't accuse him of it at the same time. Eventually he went on to be more serious in his "flirting" but after an entire year of the said back-and-forth, wherein I was desperately in love with him (but NEVER knew if he even liked me) but he kept me hanging on with just enough hints, he told me we couldn't be _anything_, and in the end I was destroyed. Now, surely you can see how much it affected my innocent 17 year self and basically hurt be to the point I'm still affected. Its only now that I can consciously see the parallels between my story and Elio's. So if CMBYN was such a novel love story, why did I relate so much to it with such a painful story?
you gave me the answer today: THE UNMISTAKABLE MANIPULATION AND BORDERLINE ABUSE!
Also I never liked Oliver's character, he just seemed like not a good person ...my friend tried brainwashing me about it but to no effect. You've answered my unconscious repulsion toward him too. Also I feel that to some extent, Armie's own character which, according to the recent expose`, seems to rejoice in perversion came out in the movie. As they say, "Give a man a mask and he'll become himself", his own sexually perverted, manipulating and sadistic affinities came to life under the garb of the character of Oliver.
whew! end of rant. Thanks for this article.

Kevin 10/05/2021 17:17

I'm very happy if my articles about Call Me By Your Name slightly helped you, you seem to have been through horrible experiences.
I wrote these articles because It worried me that so many spectators would watch this movie and not find anything problematic in Oliver's behaviors and I thought it was a good opportunity to describe morbid "flirting." The movie ends on a several minutes long shot of Elio crying, it is a very strong element. Anyway, thank you for your comment, I'm really glad if it helped you in any way.

Ellis 21/01/2021 17:14

What a great article! Ever since I saw this movie, I felt uneasy about the fact that everybody was praising this movie like it's the most beautiful love stroy ever. I always thought that this was just manipulation and using a younger cute guy.And nobody seemed to care about the fact that Oliver was silent through the whole movie about his on and off relationship...is that acceptable?? I even heard that Oliver loved Elio more than Elio loved him...yeah right...It's great to see that someone like you understood that something is deeply wrong with this "love" story.
Oh and by the way, have you read the latest Armie Hammer scandals? Turns out that the actor is also a morbidly narcissistic manipulative pervert!! :D

Kevin 22/01/2021 08:11

I hope the scandal is just a scam. We'll see.

Thanks you for your comment and your common sense. It is really disquieting that so many people should see this movie as a wonderful love story when there are so many problematic elements that can't be ignored and shouldn't be brushed away.

Movie lover girl 11/11/2020 23:12

I saw this movie and really loved it, but then I read your article and I realized that it is not a love story but a manipulation of a cute young man by an older pervert. How could I not see all along....and most people still see this as a beautiful coming of age drama. I have also read the book and it's almost exactly like the movie, except it's even more sad from Elio's point of view...like he is deeply affected by the "relationship" 20 years later and Oliver is obviously not...and in the movie Oliver's age is not mentioned, Armie Hammer looks exactly 30, so 30 and 17 that is even worse in my opinion, because it totally feels like a cute teenager is destroyed just for fun by an older man. For the record, 17 and 24 is fine, I have no problem with age gap but it's not the case here. Thank you for your eye opening article!

Kevin 17/11/2020 07:38

Thanks a lot for this comment. I'm glad you found my article interesting. And thanks for your points about the book as I haven't read it but I'm very curious of its content.
Also, It actually totally eluded my mind than no age is ever given in the movie. Critics and spectators all assumed that the story was between a 17 and 24 yo but true, I can't remember of a moment when it is said and it's a very very important element that I'll check and probably add to my argumentation.

(Also) Kevin 15/10/2020 19:55

Glad I'm not the only one who felt this way about "Call Me by Your Name". I read the book as well as saw the movie to try and gain a different- and perhaps more understanding- perspective of it, but the book only makes it worse.

Because it is really apparent, in a way that gets lost in a movie, that Elio is an unreliable narrator. Everything is told from his perspective and he spends most of the book (over)analyzing Oliver's behavior, projecting his own thoughts and feelings on Oliver when he, truthfully, doesn't know anything actually meaningful about Oliver. If the ultimate message of the story had been different, it would have been a tragic look at the thought process of a minor experiencing the distortions of shame.

In the end, Elio is severely impacted for the ensuing 20 years of his life and, from beginning to end of the story, never develops a more sophisticated understanding of human relationships- well into his 30's, he is still fixated on something that happened when he was 17. For him, the abuse survivor, it is a lifetime of grappling with shame. For Oliver, the abuser, it was a 6-week fling.

There have been a few individuals with platforms, like Karamo Brown or Cheyenne Montgomery, who are willing to 'Call Abuse by Its Name", but their messages get lost in the overwhelming sea of praise that would likely think differently if this were a story about a grad school instructor grooming 17-year old girl.

Kevin 16/10/2020 19:16

Thank you for your comment,

I was really close to reading the book because a few readers who disagreed with me used it as an argument to oppose my perception of the movie. Also, a lot of fans kept talking about the book when talking about the movie but from what I could gather, it seemed quite ambiguous too even if in a different manner. So, I'm really glad that you confirm this.
I think that this movie is a masterpiece in showing you everything while making the truth invisible. We all witness Marzia leaving, Elio and Marzia having sex, Oliver flirting with Chiara, Oliver admitting he was to marry all along etc... everything is laid out right in front of our eyes and still, it's hard to simply admit that it's too dubious, it's too complicated and convoluted to simply be a love story. There is something terrifying in that because in the real world, you do not even get half of the elements we have as spectators.

I think that it's important that people realize that what we see in this movie is abuse, that it won't help Elio grow up or be happy in any way. I understand that many spectators should perceive the movie as a love story, but I was shocked that so many fans would watch it more than three times and still remain as convinced that it is one when truly, there are many problematic elements. And I'm not saying everybody should decide that it's sexual abuse, but I wish they at least would feel that there's something wrong going on.

And yes, the cultural trend plays a big part in the perception of the movie. The age gap and the homosexuality were perceived as signs that it was a movie for open minded subversive people and backtracking to go conservative isn't easy for everybody when it would be a great pleasure for many people to simply accuse an older man of abusing a younger woman.
Although I haven't seen that kind of movie recently. :)

Anto 14/06/2020 05:10

Bruh this is homophobia not an opinon

Kevin 14/06/2020 07:27

What a disgusting comment.

One, my article isn't homophobic go fuck yourself.
Two, I knew when writing it that abysmally stupid people like you would jump on this wonderful occasion to call someone homophobic. You should learn to check why you're speaking and whether you truly have something to say (not mindlessly echo) before opening your mouth.
And three, this "this is not an opinion" is the celebration of fascism in a nutshell and I'm sure you're convinced that you're the good libertarian while you tell me it's forbidden for me to say something because "that's not an opinion, it's something forbidden."
Really this sentence structure sounds exactly like it was taken from a dystopian classic.

"John looked at Emma, he was tired of all these interdictions.
- Emma, I don't want to go the church of the absolute today. Why should we stay five hours every day listening to the same things over and over !
- But John. You can't say that ! That's heresy, that's not an opinion !"

And I'm serious, you're the mindless citizen from dystopian books. Time to grow a brain.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)
This Perfect Day (1970)