Sexuality in a Simple Peach
by Junessa Sladen-Dew
From the opening scene surrounding the debate of the word “apricot” it becomes clear that food, specifically fruit, is integral to the film. The new American love story, Call Me By Your Name (2017) by Luca Guadagnino, highlights the hidden sexuality and passion in a gay romance between Elio and Oliver through the lens of fruit. Set in an enchanted paradise deemed as “Somewhere in Northern Italy,” the deliberate mysteriousness creates a romanticism that underlies the entire film. Beautiful scene after beautiful scene, usually positioned in a bright green garden, a secluded lake, or a picturesque orchard, portrays the intense summer love through the simple innocence of summer and fresh fruit. In the striking film, peaches take on a deeper significance, creating a doorway for both men to share their secret passion and embody their overwhelming, uncontrolled emotions.
Food has become fetishized and in modern society through contemporary interpretation peaches are symbols of freshness, softness, femininity and sensuality. They embody sensuality and metaphorically represent mortality. The sweet, almost sickly smell of ripening fruit represents the fleeting enjoyment of life’s pleasures. Call Me By Your Name highlights this analogy through what is arguably the most controversial film scene concerning sexuality in 2018. This film embarks on a journey to uncover the importance of the peach including intellectual conversations on the history of the fruit, devouring peaches straight from nature, drinking the juice of peaches while having panning shots of it dripping down their bodies and ending in a scene of erotic passion where a peach is first used as a tool of sexual fantasy and then later eaten. The peach is not only a symbol of hidden sensuality between Elio and Oliver however, but also a symbol of familial love in the meals taken with Elio’s family
Although the peach embodies the sexual energy between the men and is both figuratively and literally used as a tool to express their intense emotions, it also shows the internal conflict of Elio between his sexuality and societal opinion. Through using peaches, a simple fruit, as a metaphorical portal between his hidden life and his family life, the complexities of non-heteronormative sexuality become expressed. By using the peach which is seen as part of the daily lives of the family as well as used as tool for erotic passion, we see how love can take many forms. In Figure 1, we see Elio and the visiting grad student, Oliver, sitting across from Elio’s parents with a huge spread of food, including peach juice and peach slices. Although both sides of the table are in completely different worlds and sitting at the table as very different people in society, the same food ties them together and symbolizes the complexities of love and the romantic and familial relationships that exist from that love. The cinematography that captures gentle lights, wide shots, blurred lines and tranquility once again drive home the point that this film isn’t meant to become a dramatic, heartbreaking film but simply a depiction of the complexities of young love in a changing world.
Call Me by Your Name. Directed by Luca Guadagnino. 2017. Sony Pictures Classic