Governor Breck Reconsidered

The original Planet of the Apes sequels may have had lower budgets and far fetched premises (even moreso than the first installment) but they became more imaginative and at times the line between hero and villain became somewhat blurred, leaving speciest (human) audiences conflicted about whom to root for. One example of this is Dr. Otto Hasslein, the villain (or is he?) from Escape From the Planet of the Apes who reluctantly sets out to kill Cornelius and Zira, when he realizes doing so may prevent intelligent apes from overtaking humanity in the far future. However, I will deal with the subject of Hasslein another day. Instead, I want to focus on the archetypal fascist character, Governor Breck, from the 4th installment of the series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).

Governor Breck is the authoritarian leader of Central City, a futuristic totalitarian city featuring some aesthetic uniforms and awesome 1960s brutalist architecture (the film was shot in Century City in Los Angeles.) Breck is the main antagonist of the film and is mostly depicted as a rather cruel villain. Yet while he seemingly rules with an iron fist, it becomes easier for the human viewer to empathize with Breck’s methods and actions over the course of film, as events unfold and the apes revolt, rioting and burning the city to the ground. While the audience is sympathetic to the plight of Caesar (the protagonist ape and surviving child of Zira and Cornelius in the previous film) in the first half of the movie, one begins to understand the motivations of Breck toward the end of the film. Having been warned at some previous time about the possible future where apes rule over humans, Breck realizes the existential threat the apes pose to human civilization if they are allowed to become dominant, and therefore his actions seem less harsh within the context of what he is trying to prevent. While Breck is largely presented as a kind of cold hearted, fascist strawman….near the end of the film, when he is captured by Caesar and the apes, he gives a brief, yet powerfully humanizing speech:

“Because your kind were once our ancestors. Man was born of the ape. There’s still an ape curled up inside of every man, the beast that must be whipped into submission, the savage that has to be shackled in chains. You are that beast, Caesar. You taint us. You…you poison our guts. When we hate you, we’re hating the dark side of ourselves.” – Governor Breck

These unexpectedly cogent remarks serve as an important insight into our “hateful” attitudes towards those we dislike or deem to be uncivilized. It requires a great degree of self control, emotional discipline and empathy for humans to moderate ourselves and keep our base impulses in check. Yet this is required to sustain and build upon our civilization. Each of us maintains some variable capacity to behave bestial and savage-like. So when we observe people that lack impulse control, are prone to random violence and seem unable to behave civilized in a public setting, it registers with us a visceral disgust. We recognize these tendencies within ourselves as the savage genies we successfully manage to keep bottled up everyday, “genies” we’ve gone great lengths to resist unleashing upon our fellow man (as well as our furry little friends.) Those individuals or groups we observe as failing to control these negative impulses, we see as the physical manifestations of our own primal desires and the violent thoughts we don’t dare act upon, the manifestations of such that need to be dutifully kept in check by any means necessary, in order for the civilization we love and ultimately our species to survive.


Brassless Balls

Not brass dinosaurs

Several years ago I went through a phase of collecting brass (and sometimes bronze) statues from antique and thrift stores. Through working for a company that distributed electronic components, I learned that the price of copper had gone up quite a bit (brass contains both copper and zinc.) This was often a factor in the price increases of certain products. “Tell him we can’t honor that price anymore. The price of copper has gone up,” would be a typical explanation you’d have to give to a customer.

Anyways, occasionally I would have the inclination to go to contemporary outlet and department stores hoping to find similar statues and artifacts, with the hope that I could score something neat that might increase in value in the future. Well, I was sorely disappointed to discover that nearly everything was absolute junk. Worse than that though, was that these companies would try to pass off something that was meant to look like one of those nice brass statues or bookends, yet it would be merely come cheap metal or ceramic that was slathered with gold paint. To add insult to injury, they would sell it for the same price (even adjusted for inflation) as what one could get a quality brass knick knack back when you could still get them 20 years ago. The savings in manufacturing a cheaper, lower quality product is barely even passed on to the consumer. My guess is that if there are people still making legit brass and bronze statues, they are being sold as luxury items at exponentially higher prices. This might all seem trivial, but it’s a microcosm for what corporations do:

1. Manufacture something as cheaply as they can and provide the lowest quality product that people will accept.

2. Claim to be offering the product at a better price, even though they’re pocketing the bulk of the money they’re by saving using cheaper materials and labor, and the consumer is still paying almost the same as before.

3. Offer something as a luxury item that used to be a standard, inexpensive item or add-on. A good example of this is when hotels started tacking on “resort fees” for things that used to be free like using the pool or making a local phone call from your room.

4. Copy each other, so that all companies basically have the same policies, processes and products, leaving you with no choice (you decide to take your business to another department store and then another, only to find that none of them carry genuine brass statues, and the gold painted ceramic triceratops is your only option.)

Libertarians or republicans might read this and say, “Well that’s just the free market, bro.” Perhaps, but let’s not pretend that the free market innovation inherently results in better quality products being made. They are only “better” in the sense of being able to make a more efficient profit for someone, somewhere. Just as beautiful and intelligent creatures don’t always survive the evolution and natural selection process without a little help from their friends, often times, the unchecked free market often leads to one being surrounded by cheap junk.

Not brass (not marble either)

Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism

Compare and Contrast

New EP out, Compare and Contrast. Well actually, it’s been out for a little while. It’s a folkish EP / mini album of organ-based, minimalist pop songs, featuring unassuming vocals and a retro, lo-fi sound. It is reminiscent of 90’s and early 00’s indie pop. One critic described the EP as containing “songs that sound like they belong in a Hammer film.” It’s available for purchase almost anywhere for only a few bucks.

Available on iTunes:
Brandon Adamson – Compare and Contrast

Bandcamp: Here

The Push to Normalize Polonophilia




Above are two evocative images: one of Akihabara, Tokyo, and the other of what seems to be the object of onanistic fantasising by nationalists civic and ethnic within the Anglosphere – in fact, beyond the word nationalist, it seems the only thing on which the two factions agree. The thought of the Japanese may conjure all sorts of verbal associations depending on whose story about them you have imbibed. Opinions differ on whether they are based or degenerate, whatever either of those terms is taken to mean. If you are of the #trad persuasion, you may even choose to spend a while in one of their cities and come back with a marvellous tale of woe about seeing nonagenarians waiting to die and fawning over other people’s children because they have none themselves – which you know to be true through your telepathic powers of intuition. However, something about Based Poles (this time I shall resist the bad habit of appending a trademark symbol) mysteriously curbs that telepathy, and the unanimity of opinion surrounding them and other countries of the former Eastern Bloc has little precendent in Reactosphere circles. Why, though?

I have seen the phrase “anima projection”, borrowed from Jung’s schema of unconscious archetypes, to refer to the situation in which a man becomes smitten with a woman as he projects his every fabulistic notion of what a woman should be onto her – falsely. Although not exactly scientific, I cannot help thinking of this when I see everyone from anarcho-capitalists to Ted Cruz clones to MAGA fetishists to WAs (white advocates) heaping praise upon these eastern European countries, especially Poland. Therein lies my gripe; not, of course, with the typical (I dare say normie) eastern European person.

What connecting tissue binds these ideological groups? Well, most of them are white Americans, and most call themselves traditionalists. But to be a traditionalist, apparently, is not the same thing as subscribing to a tradition. Few of these people are pagans or Christians; they are atheists who like paganism or Christianity. Indeed, some of them like paganism and Christianity, and if that does not scream “Raging Larper” to you, nothing will. What they share could more accurately be called social conservatism of various shades, which is really a personality trait for Anglospherians more than a belief system.

Poland and its neighbours are probably not what you think they are. Their women are not popping out ninety kids apiece. Their birth rate as of 2015 was lower than Japan’s, and on UN projections of population decline between 2017 and 2050, Japan came in 11th. The top ten, including Poland, were all in eastern Europe. Japan, incidentally, has a single metropolitan area (the Greater Tokyo Area) whose population is quite close to that of the entire Polish nation, and yet Japan is referred to as the ageing nation.

As explored in an earlier blogpost, the reason organised religion is just about dead in my country, and across the First World, is that its psychological foundation, mortality salience, has ebbed away. It is not the fault of the Jews, neo-Marxism, or elaborate cultural conditioning. Poland could be just a few decades behind Britain and the US in this regard, unless there is some unknown variable. With the rural US, another possible exception to the rule, the variable seems to be some mixture of bucolic communitarianism and, interestingly, patriotic feeling. There is already evidence suggesting that ethnocentrism and religiosity are neurologically linked. This may be why the iconography of Jesus in the US so often goes hand in hand with waving the ‘Murican flag. It does not seem crazy to postulate that something similar is happening with Poles, given that the land they call home is among the most historically blighted in the world. When you see the religious imagery present at Polish nationalist rallies, this should become obvious.

How religious are they, anyway? 87.5% identify as Roman Catholics. Of those, 36.7% actually attend church. That gives us 32.1% of the country’s people who attend church regularly. That puts me in mind of the curious datum which showed that 45% of self-identified UK Christians say they do not believe in God, although it is not quite the same thing of course. It it also likely to vary by region, as in the American case, with even fewer true religious adherents in large metropoleis. Latvia, the Czech Republic, and especially Estonia are all deeply irreligious, so the legacy of communism and reaction thereto do not account for Poland’s religiosity either. The Vatican does have a great influence over Poland’s governent – that most legendary of Jesusian organisations through whom God imparts his wisdom about the sanctity of migrant life, for the Lord’s only constancy is fickleness.

It ought to go without saying the last “problem” on Earth WAs should care about is the nonexistent ethnic struggle between the Germans and the Poles, or between the ghosts of the dead regimes that once ruled them. Yet, so many people are rushing to defend this, “Because national pride.” Some, mostly Americans, use this to outright dodge WA matters. Eastern Europe is homogeneous, and lo and behold, suddenly this is a cultural and religous question, not a racial one. But when these countries’ leaders say they want to protect their Christian heritage from refugee inflow, do they really mean to say that if their current citizens all deconverted tomorrow they would happily replace them with African Catholics?

I do not think a civic identity that is only implicitly white is in itself bad. This is arguably the way many Europeans thought of themselves prior to the mid-20th century. This is where I think people get the wrong idea about Steve Sailer’s citizenism, a position for which I have some respect. It is perhaps the case that whites today will simply never gravitate to an explicitly racialist message and prefer thinking about abstract philosophies. But almost all of those abstract philosophies, from libertarianism to ecological activism, are the province of whites anyway, and once whites secure territories somewhere, we could enact ethnic migration quotas of the sort that existed in the US pre-1965 but with a rationale geared towards the belief systems of the community and an emphasis on ensuring the citizens’ welfare. Japanese ancestry is not needed to become a Japanese citizen, but >95% of Japanese residents are the same group who were there a century ago. I see no problem with this model. Call it “implicitly white white nationalism”, if you like (citizenism also works). White advocacy may not always be necessary, although combating anti-white rhetoric probably will. But ethnic nationalism of the classical variety is little more than a distraction at the present time, particularly when it is a vicarious ethnic nationalism viewed through the eyes of conservative Euro-Americans.

I have observed a tendency to equate any pan-Europeanism with the European Union, but this does not stand up to scrutiny unless you would also compare the original stock of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand to the EU, or unless you would object to the Polish diaspora population, which is among the largest on Earth.

Criticism of ethnic nationalism does not imply the dissolution of all borders or population unitarianism (i.e. the melding of all ethnicities into one). The EU has not managed that yet, and I doubt it will. But it is simply not reasonable to expect people to adhere to ethnic identities as doggedly as they did in previous centuries. The way forward is through intentional communities, and there are more than enough differences among people in WA circles to become their own ethnic or quasi-ethnic identities. Whether any kind of singular consciousness shared across all these groups is possible remains to be seen, although increasingly I suspect not. The internet gives us something of a blueprint for this – being a kind of “ideostate” if not an ethnostate, which connects groups who have little in common with each other beyond their affirmation of Europeans’ right to continue existing. How that will translate into life is an abiding, and exhausting, mystery.

The Bearer of “Trad” News

One of my least favorite memes/concepts employed by the alt-right is “trad” – short for “traditional” – primarily because the concept bears so little relationship or relevance to the world that we currently live in.

If you live in a technologically modern country, your way of life is overwhelmingly likely to not even remotely resemble anything that can accurately be described as “traditional”. For a way of life to be traditional, it must must follow in the footsteps of prior generations. The Amish, for example, are one of the very few subcultures within North America, who live in a truly traditional manner. They practice a low-tech agrarian mode of subsistence, in which new technologies are only adopted very selectively and only following great deliberation. Due to the exceedingly slow pace of technological change in Amish communities, sons still lead very similar lives as their fathers and grandfathers. They have the same profession (typically a farmer or artisan), practice the same religion, and participate in similar social arrangements and events. This cannot be said by over 99% of the North American or European population. If you are reading this, your way of life is likely radically different from that of your parents, whose lives were equally different from that of their parents. This can be said, at minimum, about every generation born since the earliest periods of industrialization – and possibly before that, as agrarian societies weren’t nearly as stagnant as commonly conceived of.


Present societies are “intergenerationally multicultural”, in that every generation practices a different culture than the prior one. Conditions differ sufficiently between generations that each generation adapts differently to their respective circumstances. Of course, generations don’t regard each other as completely alien and unintelligible, as common practices and frames of reference do link them together. However, even shared practices differ in both subtle and dramatic ways. In North America, boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen-Zers all speak English, but they don’t exactly speak it identically. Accents differ and new slang is introduced with every generation, the latest of which tends to be inspired by memes originating on Internet discussion forums. All living generations use automobiles, but younger generations are more likely to forego car ownership and rely upon Lyft, Uber and various carsharing services. All generations consume media entertainment while looking at a screen. However, older generations are more likely to watch cable and network television, whereas the youngest generations play video games and watch five minute YouTube clips. Boomers still advise Millennial men to pursue women using courtship rituals that worked in the 1950s, but would likely get one branded an obsessive creepy stalker today. Millennials who happen to be employed often work in job categories that didn’t exist 50 years ago. Popular musical styles vary dramatically between generations – to the point where prior generations regard new music as unlistenable. Sexual mores have both loosened and tightened in different respects. There are far fewer settings where pursuit of sex or romance is considered appropriate – For example, the days of a lawyer or detective romantically pursuing and marrying his secretary seem to be over. However, due to the ubiquitous availability of Internet porn, even the most sexually conservative Millennials know the meanings of terms like “bukaake” and “double penetration”. The once predominant ideology of the U.S., namely American exceptionalism – has been dethroned within the course of my lifetime by progressivism, and yet older generations are oblivious to this transition. Right-wing Millennials are more likely to join the alt-right – a movement that’s arguably both post-American and globalist, despite calling itself “nationalist” – than to embrace the “respectable conservatism” of William F Buckley and the National Review.

In the above paragraph, I’m not conveying any information that the reader doesn’t already know, but my point is that those who deem themselves “trad” are not exempt from the aforementioned generational shifts. If you shitpost memes about “thots” and “Chads” on Twitter and 4chan, listen to synthwave or neofolk on YouTube, or participate in a Skype group with other “trad”-minded folk, there’s nothing about your way of life that even approximates anything traditional. No generation prior to yours has spent its free time in this manner. If you attempted to explain memeposting to your grandfather, it would strike him as every bit as alien as the culture of a Muslim, if not more so. Your daily activities are as much a manifestation of modernism as that of green-haired intersectional feminists who think broadcasting their politics on Tinder is a good way to attract a man. Furthermore, if you ever end up having children (like a good “trad” should), they are unlikely to mimic your idiosyncratic customs, as they will grow up under a different set of conditions and will regard your practices as irrelevant to their “lived experience”.

I’ve observed attempts at reconstructing lost traditions, most notably Asatru – or Germanic paganism. Given that most of our European ancestors converted to Christianity at various points during the Middle Ages, depending upon location, the practice of paganism amounts to a form of historical reenactment (e.g., LARPing), based upon mythological texts written after the Norse conversion to Christianity, incomplete historical accounts and archeological digs. A religious practice is not exactly “traditional” when neither your father, grandfather nor great-grandfather had any familiarity with it, much less if you have to rely upon a potentially faulty interpretation of scattered historical remnants to reconstruct it. Also, the children of those who practice Asatru are more likely to regard Asatru as a weird eccentricity of their right-wing hippie parents than to embrace it themselves, meaning it won’t likely transfer between generations.

Others on the right have attempted to adopt traditions that have persisted unbroken in other cultures, most notably Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Unlike Asatru, the practice of Orthodoxy has been practiced in an unbroken lineage since the formation of the church. However, it also doesn’t strike me as particularly “traditional” for Anglo-Germanic descended white Americans to convert to a religion historically practiced by Slavs and Middle Easterners, particularly when so few of their white American coethnics living in the same community are likely to follow suit. As with the children of parents who practice Asatru, the children of Orthodox Christian converts are just as likely to become atheists or Buddhists as they are to embrace what they see as their kooky right-wing Dad’s LARPy religion. In the meantime, numerous Orthodox Slavs, Armenians and Lebanese remain “Orthodox” in name, while adopting the same modern lifestyles as any secular liberal in response to the incentives generated by the modern world.

One other possible option is to invent something completely new and turn it into a tradition. However, I see this as unlikely, given the rapid pace of technological and economic change during the era in which we live. A traditional way of life is dependent upon a “steady state economy”, in which available technology and economic demands don’t vary significantly between generations. Within an agrarian, pastoral or hunter-gatherer setting, traditions serve as useful intergenerational knowledge, freeing up each generation from having to repeat the discoveries and mistakes of their predecessors. Under such circumstances, traditions conducive to survival and reproduction tend to persist and proliferate, while those that don’t tend to be discorded – or kill off or reduce the numbers of those who practice them. In an industrial or post-industrial economy, all traditions end up discarded, as the practices useful to one generation don’t necessarily impart practices useful to the next. The demands required to make a living, find friends and attract a mate can change so rapidly that any given set of customs can be rendered obsolete within a decade. It is certainly possible that industrial society could collapse even in our lifetimes, but those born during this period will adopt a very different culture than ours. Furthermore, we will most certainly die before the world once again reaches a steady state economy that persists between generations.

If we actually were able to experience a traditional way of life in a small community under a steady state economy, what makes us so certain that we’d actually like it? We are not psychologically adapted to such an environment. Regardless of how “traditional” or “right-wing” one might think of themself as, each of us grew up in an atmosphere of material comfort, overstimulation and hedonism, and I haven’t witnessed a single person completely sever their addiction to it. We like comfort and convenience, digital entertainment, easy access to sex, urban anonymity, plentiful mood-altering substances, the ability to video chat with friends from other continents, vacations to remote locales, Lyft rides home when drunk, etc. Hedonism by itself is of course insufficient to make us feel satisfied, and when taken to excess, it can lead to self-destruction. Many people do find themselves uninspired and depressed by the softness of the modern world, but they generally respond not by abandoning it entirely, but by adopting surrogate challenges or mini-struggles to counter-balance it. They will take up rock climbing, crossfit, boxing, mountain biking, hiking, bushcrafting, etc, which allows them to experience a psychological state approximating pre-modern struggle for a brief period of time, before returning to their modern apartment – with packages just delivered from Amazon Prime waiting in a locker in the lobby (accessible by code delivered via text to their smartphone).

My intention is not to impart the message, “Change is inevitable, therefore it’s good, therefore embrace all of it in its entirety”. However, I don’t think we have any choice but to recognize that our identity is inescapably modern. Traditions don’t have much to offer us, hence why they long ceased to propagate themselves. Our way of life is new and bears little resemblance to those who preceded us. However, we must recognize that not every behavior that the modern world permits or encourages is to our advantage. It’s in our interest to engage with the modern world selectively, and we can only inform our decisions by observing the fallout of other peoples’ and our own bad decisions. While it would be more efficient to inherit the practices and customs of our predecessors, this is not an option in a world characterized by accelerated economic and technological change. Each generation must perpetually reinvent their culture, retaining only the practices of prior generations that prove themselves beneficial, while discarding the remainder and replacing them with something new. Our best option is to adopt an orientation of selective futurism, while purging the word “traditional” from our vocabulary. It doesn’t exist and will never exist in our lifetime.

Decay blogs at

A Cornflower By Any Other Name

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 film about a transient ephebophilic romantic entanglement between two diasporic Jews living in “northern Italy” (not otherwise specified) in the 1980s with a shared interest in European high culture and in the fact that they are both Jews. It is the type of premise that makes a typical person of These Circles™ apoplectic, and one could almost say that it was that, combined with simple curiosity, that made me watch it.

I am continually amazed by how many people flippantly throw about the term “paedophilia”. I recall Ryan Faulk remarking once that the word “racist” is useless because to brand someone with it tells one nothing about what he believes; it is used only to manipulate. Ditto here, it seems, when the younger person in the relationship is 17, which is fully four years removed from what clinicians would define as paedophilic territory. Equally amazing is how many people are saying, “But the age of consent in Italy is 14,” as if that even matters. Would this become a “paedophile movie” to these people if Italy’s age of consent were 18 in 1983?

Why Italy was chosen is indeed interesting (much of this may apply to the source material as much as the film) and segues into several other curious choices made in the film about what to show explicitly, implicitly, or not at all. Debates rage on whether Italy or Germany deserves to be called the heart of European civilisation, but it should be borne in mind that both are young countries, and the region of Italy in which the film is set was part of the same political entity as what is now called Germany for a significant chunk of its history. The two protagonists – Oliver (the man) and Elio (the teenager) – roundaboutly evoke these themes in a dialogue about classical composers, eg Bach (a German) and Busoni (an Italian).

If one draws a line, roughly, under Bologna, everything above is unambiguously white. Everything below is white too, but it is palpably not the same. Northern Italy is also the least Jewish part of the country, as Elio notes quite early on, to which Oliver says that he is from New England and is “used to being the odd Jew out.” Elio is plainly uncomfortable with his identity, which is one of the things that cause friction between the two at first. Oliver, though, is overbearingly confident and looks like a figure from a 50s film noir poster, just at the time America’s Anglo elite had begun its steady decline. One could easily believe that he was indeed a New Englander, and he spends most of his life absorbed in European cultural artefacts, but internally he cannot bring himself to abandon his apartness, his selectness, his (I dare say) chosenness. He also has five-pointed stars on his trainers, on which the camera at one point lingers for a few seconds – as if this were connected to the Star of David he wears on a discreet necklace. It is not, though. It really only puts one in mind, again, of old films, and of that place which is home to all things formless, superficial, and vacuous.

Elio is attracted to these qualities in Oliver, but when he tries imitating Oliver’s behaviour, wearing a Star of David round his own neck, it comes across as strange and hollow. His mother would apparently disapprove of it, because his family are “Jews of discretion”, but she never comments on it, which makes one wonder what was the point of even mentioning it in the first place.

Elio’s family, naturally, are odd. He sounds American. His mother and father sound English and American respectively, but it is still not clear. All of them speak at least four European languages, and they live in a bucolic Italian paradise, but it is apparently only one of their houses (do they have one for every season of the year?). They act almost as a mosaic arrangement of the clichés of European Jewry; deracination, neuroticism, feigning detachment from things.

Elio’s father, “Mr Perlman”, is an archaeologist, so the film is replete with discussion about classical antiquity, particularly their aesthetics. However, despite taking place in Italy, most of the names I remember hearing were Greek, which I found interesting because Greece had few settlements in that part of Italy – the northernmost outpost of Magna Graecia was at Adria, but it was very much an outlier. Mr Perlman waxes lyrical a few times in the film, the first time when he is showing Oliver a slideshow of classical statues and saying that they look as if they are “daring you to desire them”, at which Oliver gives a quizzical look. This comes on the heels of escalating tension between him and Elio – and afterward, his inhibitions seem to diminish. That is the explicit link to Hellenic pederasty. The implicit one is by far more interesting. Although both actors (Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet) are adult men, they could not have found two men who were more physically different. Hammer is above the 99th percentile in US male height and nearly as fetching as the Greek statues, whereas Chalamet is glabrous and gangling. Elio is at an ephebe’s age, more or less (he is played by Chalamet). He is cultured but rather unworldly and naive – and by the end of the film (like an eromenos, one is tempted to imagine), when he is inconsolably broken-hearted, one finally sees a change in his demeanour. By then he has come to terms with himself in multiple ways, not just with his incipient sexuality.

Neither one of these characters is straightforwardly gay; Elio has a girlfriend for the second half of the film with whom he copulates, and Oliver eventually ends up getting married. It is better this way, I think. If they were gay then their relationship would be that much less remarkable, since it would be the default for them both to be attracted to members of their own sex anyway. Since this is not the case, attention is drawn not to the same-sex nature of their attraction, but to everything else about them – their erudition, Oliver’s strange obsessiveness, etc. Oliver’s doctoral thesis, the reason he is staying with Elio’s family, remains a mystery except for the fact that he is assisting Elio’s father in some way, but that is never really explained either, and there are probably a load more things like that that I have missed. The performances of the two lead actors, who eat up >90% of the screen time, are among the most “real” I have ever seen in a film, and I do not recall any scenes that you would have to be gay to enjoy. There is also not a single histrionic outburst from anyone in the entire film about Elio and Oliver’s relationship, which stops it from falling into familiar(ly tedious and clichéd) territory, and Oliver even seems to remark on this towards the end when he says something to the effect of, “You are so lucky. My father would have had me carted off to a correctional facility.” In fact, the extent to which their relationship is even mentioned explicitly by any of the other characters is very limited even at the end.

So it’s worth watching, I think. But if you are the sort who would be put off by Robert Stark’s novel, this is probably not for you either.