Beautiful and Powerful
This movie is incredibly affecting and evocative. Mature 15 year olds could appreciate the beautiful scenery and slow build of the relationship between the two male leads. The age difference is obvious, but mostly because the visiting graduate student, Oliver, is very tall and the younger male lead, Elio, is youthfully thin. Elio is intelligent and can hold his own in sophisticated adult conversations, but lacks confidence with peers and romance. His development and coming of age is a large theme. Love won and lost is the most difficult lesson of the film. Smoking and drinking are prevalent, but part of the culture of the time period and this should be outlined for your teen. I'll talk about the sexual content first since I think most parents probably are curious about that aspect of the film. There are three homosexual sex scenes that are mild and only implied- the first shows the men taking off their shirts and beginning to undo their pants, but cuts away quickly to another scene. Twice, there are brief suggestions of fellatio. Elio used a peach to masturbate; a bit odd, but not just for comic effect. Ironically, the most explicit encounters in the movie are heterosexual sex between two older teens. One short scene shows them almost fully clothed, but clearly having very awkward intercourse outside in the grass. Another scene shows the young woman removing her bikini top with the young man cupping her breasts. Soon after, there is implied oral sex- his head is between her legs while he unties her bikini bottom. The scene cuts away before anything further happens. There is a brief flash of naked male buttocks when the men change into bathing suits and one scene in which Oliver is shown from behind standing naked. Okay- all done with the sexual content. The main focus of the film is really on the developing relationship between Oliver and Elio. They are both clearly conflicted about expressing their feelings for each other. This conflict really has more to do with the unacceptability of homosexuality in the early 1980's than it does about their age difference. A mature 14 year old could appreciate the movie, but might find it a bit slow at times. Because of the more "accepting" time they live in, they will need to have the 1980's context highlighted to help explain the reserved, but emotion-laden goodbye at the end. The fact that both men appear to have fluid sexuality is likely to be more familiar to the youth of this generation. The relationship between Elio and his parents is very accepting and supportive, but Oliver's appears to be more oppressive and unforgiving. It is not surprising that Oliver moves on to conform to heterosexual expectations while Elio is able to deeply feel and express his emotions. There are many aspects of the movie worthy of discussion, not the least of all is letting oneself experience life fully with acceptance of the sadness along with the joy.