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Boston Globe: ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Is A ‘Dishonest, Dangerous’ Film About Abuse

A scathing article in The Boston Globe has denounced the Oscar-nominated movie “Call Me By Your Name” for glorifying sexual abuse.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, “Call Me by Your Name” tells the story of a 17-year-old boy named Elio (Timothee Chalamet) as he embarks on a sexual relationship with a 25-year-old man named Oliver (Armie Hammer) during a hot Italian summer in 1983.

While Cheyenne Montgomery of The Boston Globe appreciates the film’s “lush, dream-like” qualities, she feels that critics who call the film “an erotic triumph” or “a romantic marvel,” while barely even acknowledging the age gap between the two leads, have missed an important point.

“‘Call Me by Your Name’ isn’t about an older man and a younger man. It falsely romanticizes an exploitative relationship between a grown man and a teenager,” she writes. “These manipulative relationships cause lasting damage, as I know from my own experience.”

Cheyenne then writes of her own alleged experience in a similar relationship that left her emotionally scarred:

As a 15-year-old scholarship student starting at Choate Rosemary Hall in 1989, I liked to think of myself as an autonomous adult. But like Elio, sprawling across his parents’ laps on a rainy afternoon, I was not.

That first year at Choate, I met Angus Mairs, my math teacher and dorm adviser. We all went to Mr. Mairs for math help, but somehow “math help” turned into personal discussions. Mr. Mairs pried and probed into my personal details until I revealed to him that a family member had sexually abused me throughout my childhood. Instead of making a prompt report to Child Welfare, Mr. Mairs used that information to pose as my protector and savior.

Over and over, he would ask me, ‘What are you thinking about?’ It might seem like an innocent question, but it wasn’t. He wanted access to my most personal thoughts and feelings — and if I wanted his approval, I had to hand them over.

Cheyenne likened this experience to a similar scene in “Call Me By Your Name” where Elio refuses to divulge his private thoughts to Oliver, prompting his withdrawal. “I guess I’ll go hang out with your mom,” Oliver says, and walks away.

Cheyenne says that her inappropriate relationship with Mr. Mairs persisted until she lost her virginity to him while on a camping trip and states that it left her emotionally shattered.

“When I crawled out of the tent the next morning, I looked at my legs and my arms,” she writes. “My skin, the moles on my legs, the hair on my arms, all looked the same, but somehow none of it felt like mine anymore. I told myself over and over that I was in complete control. That this was a choice that I was making. This was a story I held onto fiercely – even long after I had severed all ties with Mr. Mairs.”

Cheyenne warns that people should not see the movie as some innocent “sexy coming-of-age” romance because the reality is far different than what is presented.

“As experts on this type of abuse will tell you, Elio is at the very beginning of a long struggle with the misery and the challenges that survivors inevitably face,” she writes. “A real-life Elio would most likely suffer from depression and perhaps even become suicidal.”

“This film has the potential to cause real harm by normalizing this kind of sexual predation,” she continued. “It could be particularly damaging for LGBT youth, who are already at a high risk for depression and suicide.”

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