LGBTQ+ protagonists have taken centerstage this past year. Two coming-of-age films following teens exploring their sexuality have gotten recognition, which is way more than the usual zero.
The first of these films is “Call Me by Your Name,” directed by Luca Guadagnino and based on the book of the same name by André Aciman. The film had a limited release in November 2017 before its wide release in January 2018.
In it, 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet) spends the summer of 1983 falling in love with a graduate student, Oliver (Armie Hammer), who is staying with Elio’s family at their home in Italy.
The film tells a beautiful story of love and the discovery of self, as Elio comes to terms with his bisexuality. It recently won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and rightly so: each scene served a purpose, and many lines had clever, subtle meanings that viewers might miss their first time watching.
It wasn’t only that, though. The film is brilliant overall, with gorgeous imagery of the Italian cityscape, an amazing soundtrack featuring Sufjan Stevens and some of the best performances I’ve ever seen from each actor involved.
It isn’t for everyone, though. Some may be uncomfortable with the age gap between the two protagonists, while others could be with the sexual nature of the film and the fact that (spoiler alert) Elio masturbates with a peach.
Those that aren’t comfortable with “Call Me by Your Name” might enjoy “Love, Simon,” a more wholesome romantic comedy directed by Greg Berlanti, released this past March.
“Love, Simon” is based off of a young adult novel written by Becky Albertalli, “Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda,” and follows closeted 17-year-old Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) as he falls in love with a
n anonymous classmate, nicknamed Blue, through a series of email messages.
The story focuses more on the stressful nature of coming out than “Call Me by Your Name” does, as Simon is comfortable with his sexuality and in no way ashamed of it, but doesn’t know how to tell his friends and family without feeling like they’ll see him as someone different than before.
“Maybe part of me wants to hold on to who I’ve always been, for just a little longer,” Simon says in the film’s trailer as he questions why he hasn’t come out yet.
It’s a wonderful film, guaranteed to make you laugh and maybe even cry. Simon is surrounded by a wonderfully supportive group of people, and each character’s reaction to his sexuality can make anyone, of any sexuality, tear up just a little.
While the film may not tell every closeted teen’s coming out story, it tells a story we all needed: one where two people of the same sex fall in love, and neither of them gets their heart broken or dies.
Whatever your preference may be, “Call Me by Your Name” and “Love, Simon” are breaking boundaries and paving the way for more award-winning, major films of the same themes.
Loved these movies and looking for more, lesser known LGBTQ+ films? Consider checking out “But I’m a Cheerleader,” “Blue is the Warmest Colour,” “Beautiful Thing,” “Boys Don’t Cry” and, of course, “Brokeback Mountain.”