By Allie Verdesca ’18
Spring is my least favorite season. Allergies get worse and schedules get busier. What’s more, the weather has not been very cooperative in keeping me going throughout the school year. Especially with senioritis sinking in, I am finding it hard to stay on task. My main coping mechanism for these feelings has been music, and more specifically, breakup music. In my opinion, there is no song more relatable than a breakup song. Even if you haven’t been dumped (or dumped someone else), everyone can understand the sting of heartbreak. While not all of these songs are about the end of relationships, they are perfect if you’re ready to break up with the school year and move on to the bigger, better things that the summer will bring. So grab some earbuds and get ready to rock!
The first song on this list is “The Greatest” by Sia. Recently, I have been listening to many pop musicians and getting reacquainted with a more traditional pop sound. Sia’s “The Greatest” is the perfect earworm to get you through these last few draining weeks of school. The song’s driving beat and refrain of “don’t give up” provide the perfect antidote for your end-of-the-school year woes. Sia’s soprano voice and mastery of her trademark pop sound will keep you hustling through exam season and reassuring yourself that you too are “free to be the greatest here tonight.”
In a similar vein is Ingrid Michaelson’s main claim to fame, her song, “Girls Chase Boys.” Like “The Greatest,” Michaelson’s song has an upbeat and repetitive chorus, and she really knows how to sing a good breakup song. From her emotional vocals on “The Chain” to her enthusiasm on “Be Okay” and her sass on “Hell No,” Michaelson has mastered the craft of channeling sorrow into productivity. With “Girls Chase Boys,” hopefully, you too can release your disenchantment with the school year and use it to finish strong. The song’s leading verses are relatable and encouraging, and with a fun, danceable beat, “Girls Chase Boys” will have you shrugging off your setbacks and admitting that “I’m gonna be alright!”
On a different note, one of my favorite songs of all time is “Sad Song” by Scotty Sire. Not my typical type of music, “Sad Song” combines biting sarcasm with a bubbly, upbeat rap to create the ultimate feel-good, feel-bad song. The song’s lyrics carp on all the little things that can go wrong in life, and Sire’s nasal voice and accompanying whistling along to the tune of the chorus make everything seem a little easier. While this isn’t necessarily a breakup song, it embraces the self-pity and stress that come with the end of the year and reassures us that “it’ll be alright,” and sometimes, joking about your misery makes your problems easier to bear.
And finally, the epitome of breakup songs has to be Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” After performing the song with the Balladeers for our annual assembly, nothing has encapsulated my end of the year more than this iconic 1980’s single. Gaynor is the epitome of a classically trained vocal powerhouse with an amazing belt. The strength in Gaynor’s voice is undeniable, and the way she puts weight behind every word will have you singing along. The slow, dramatic piano introduction sets the stage for its pulsing chorus. The chorus will have you jumping off your feet and dancing, and will be the perfect push to get you through final exams and AP season. Knowing that “you will survive” may be the best motivation to send exhausted Pingry kids into the summer feeling accomplished and ready for a well-deserved break.
As this is my last music column for the Pingry Record, I just want to say it has been a pleasure to share my music interests with you all. I hope I have been able to provide some musical inspiration and broaden your horizons. Have a great summer!
By Felicia Ho ’19
Feeling cranky after oversleeping on a beautiful Sunday morning? Looking for a great place to unwind and chat with friends and family? Tired of waiting as the minutes slowly tick by for only a bite-sized meal? Look no further than the dim sum at Chengdu 1 Palace in Green Brook Township.
When I first moved to Warren a couple of years ago and saw the sprawling lawns and open land, I was worried that there would be no spark of life in a town sheltered by towering trees. What’s more, I worried that there would be very few authentic Chinese restaurants in an area without a large Chinese community. Soon, however, I discovered the yellow brick road — Route 22 — and its emerald castle — Chengdu 1 Palace.
My family no longer had to drive forty minutes or more to Edison or Parsippany, where Asian communities have cultivated several landmark restaurants, to experience the hustle of dim sum. Having tasted traditional dim sum in China, my family had high expectations for Chengdu 1 Palace. Dim sum needs to be an experience. You have to feel the rush of the moment as carts rustle past, loaded with plate upon plate of dumplings and rice noodles and servers advertising their cargo with competing cries. You have to be bold to try all kinds of food, and, yes, that includes the chicken feet and beef tripe. Only when your table is full of plates and awash with the scent of freshly steamed buns and porridge can you truly appreciate the majestic quality of dim sum as a satisfying meal.
Chengdu 1 Palace passed these expectations with flying colors. My personal favorite, the jiu cai bao, or chive dumplings, had the right amount of crunch and texture along with a strong scent of chives that filled the air. My little brother could not get enough of the tangy sauce covering the pai gu, or steamed ribs, and my parents loved the wide selection of foods to choose from, covering not only the traditional Hong Kong-style foods associated with dim sum but also other regional specialties like ma la liang fen, cold and spicy jelly cubes. Although the boba tea was not the best, the bulk of the meal, whether it be the tender cheong fan rolled rice noodles with shrimp or the sweet red bean filled zhi ma qiu, or sesame balls, was outstanding.
What’s more, Chengdu 1 Palace is operated by a great staff who is always ready to help. While there are few vegetarian options for dim sum, you also have the opportunity to order off of the dinner menu.
Whether you have yet to be introduced to the wonders of dim sum or are already a seasoned foodie, having dim sum at Chengdu 1 Palace is a great experience, especially considering that it is local and truly delivers an authentic dim sum meal. Indeed, dim sum may help you reach new frontiers in your connoisseur career of culinary excellence as you nibble on the stomach of a cow, or it will satisfy your sweet tooth with light, airy desserts. Either way, the servers and waiters are eager to help you embark on your journey, and maybe even help you learn a little bit about Chinese culture along the way.
In a world populated with takeout boxes of orange chicken and fried rice from Panda Express, Chengdu 1 Palace offers a haven for traditional Chinese cuisine to continue to thrive in the modern suburbia. The next time you feel lost, follow Route 22 and open the gates to the Chengdu 1 Palace for a culinary experience of a lifetime.
By Alexis Elliot ’18
Netflix boasts many originals and blockbusters. In the case of shows like Black Mirror and Narcos, viewers are given a taste of what they are about to watch, obviously, from the show or movie title. However, the show Dear White People is interestingly one of the few misnomers on the network. Dear White People is based on a 2014 film of the same name, both written by Justin Simien. Season two of the show was released on May 4. With the buzz that the show got due to its misleading title and its satirical plotline, I knew I had to recap season one.
Dear White People focuses on the main character Sam, a black college student who runs a radio hotline called “Dear White People” at a predominantly white and extremely competitive fictional college called Winchester. The creation and name of her radio station receives a lot of backlash from the white students of the college. However, Simien uses Sam to address the show’s misnomer by explaining that although the radio station (and show) is addressed to white people, it is mainly focused on black people and doesn’t hesitate to criticize the black community.
Further, Simien makes each episode of Dear White People based around a different black member of the college. First there’s Sam, the headstrong activist on campus, who feels guilty about dating a white person. Then there is Lionel, an avid writer for the school newspaper who struggles to embrace his identity. There’s also Coco who comes from South Side, Chicago, but feels entitled when she is around the black community. This wide range of characters makes up the small percentage of blacks at the college. They allow Sam to use her platform to fight for and, at times, criticize her own people.
In the original movie, the main issue that Sam was broadcasting against was a “black face” party hosted by one of the notorious frats called “Pastiche.” While the party was shut down by the cops, Sam was taken aback by the fact that some members of the black community actually dressed up to attend the event. Season one of Dear White People tackles the unrest at Winchester; the non-colored students feel as though there is a “war” being waged by the colored people. For this reason, one of the donors offers to shut down a historically black house at the college and replace it with a mixed house. When students find out about it, the reaction is just as fiery as the one against blackface.
Season two leaves viewers wondering whether or not the black community will be forever rocked by the potential loss of a meaningful sanctuary for them. They have to face the fact that despite their differences and internal issues, they must band together in order to survive.
Dear White People is a show that will keep you laughing and doesn’t demand too much of your attention. The episodes are short and there are only ten in season one and eight in season two. I found myself laughing at the satire that all students, regardless of background, can somehow relate to.
The one criticism I’ve heard about the show, and I slightly agree with, is that the generalizations for the satire were overworked. The “types” of social groups at the college (based on race) seemed too cliché for some viewers. However, I think the show does a great job of explaining an aspect of college that many tend to overlook, while serving up some humor at the same time.
By Kristine Fu ’19
This past winter had such unpredictable weather changes that we were left confused as to whether we should grab our snowcoats or umbrellas. After what seemed to be an interminable winter, temperatures have finally started to rise. Spring fashion at Pingry is typically marked by the onset of floral dresses, pastel colored skirts, and Lilly Pulitzer, but this spring, try something new! Culottes and trousers are in high demand this season for their versatility and comfort. Culottes are a type of pants that resemble a skirt. Less restrictive than black jeans, culottes have the same “flowy” feel as a skirt. Culottes comes in an assortment of styles: denim print, stripes, linen, and more. Many women’s trousers have a flared hem and some are more restrictive at the ankles. Another style of pants worth trying is Bermuda shorts. Despite its stereotype of being tourist clothing, Bermuda shorts have been reimagined. These shorts have a distinctive summer feel and come in a variety of prints, ranging from Hawaiian to gingham.
Here are some summer essentials:
- The denim jacket can be paired with any dress or top. To make it unique, choose different styles like acid wash, distressed, cross ribbon detail or even personalized.
- Since the so-called fashion rule mandates “No white after labor day,” take advantage of the summertime to wear white jeans with every outfit.
- Sunglasses are not only essential to your wardrobe but also to your health! Protect your eyes in style by trying on classic Ray-ban aviators or even the ever-popular clout goggles.
In footwear, there are so many exciting new styles to try. Of course, Pingry footwear essentials include Sperry Topsiders, Birkenstocks, and Jack Rogers sandals.
Keep the following styles on your radar as well:
- Mules are a style of shoes that have no back or constraints around the foot’s heel.
- Slingback pumps are characterized by a strap that crosses behind the heel or ankle. These heels have a retro flair. Their 1-2 inch heels make them great for daily wear.
- Espadrilles are marked by soles made of braided cord. They go well with any preppy outfit.
- Slides have gotten a makeover this season. They can come with a variety of details: bejeweled, pearl detail, metallic, fringed etc.
- Platform sandals give you an extra 2-3 inches in height and can be the perfect fit to any summer outfit.
- Platform derby shoes are my current favorite shoes for its durability and polished style.
By Allie Verdesca ’18
All right, raise your hand if you’ve had this experience. During a family car ride, your mom or dad would turn up the radio and sing along – a little too loudly – to the music they loved as a teenager: classic rock. Maybe it was Bruce Springsteen, maybe the Rolling Stones, maybe the Eagles. Although I might not want to admit it to my parents, a lot of this music has stayed with me throughout my life and provides a nice break from today’s oft-auto-tuned pop offerings.
For this column, I want to explore these musical roots. This is in no way a comprehensive list of the best classic rock songs. Instead, I will highlights songs that I’ve been listening to at the moment. With that said, here are three of my favorite classic rock and roll songs.
The first song on my list has made a comeback recently due to the popular Netflix show, Stranger Things. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash plays in one of the first episodes of the first season. Stranger Things, which is set in the 1980s fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, is known for its nostalgia. This nostalgia has exposed a whole new generation to the Clash’s hit single. One thing I love about classic rock is the amount of guitar highlighted in each song. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” pairs raunchy guitar riffs with a solid, catchy drum beat. The song shifts tempo from the verses into the chorus, creating an effect that keeps the listener guessing. The vocals are shouted in punk-esque style, highlighting the band’s origins as a part of the first wave of British punk. The song is a great addition to a throwback playlist, and it should keep you going through these brutal weeks before Spring Break.
Another song I listened to growing up is “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. Frankly, any Billy Joel song could make this list. Billy Joel is arguably the quintessential classic rock artist. He has sold over one million tickets at Madison Square Garden, setting the record for any single artist, and he will be performing his fifty-fifth consecutive show in August during his musical residency at MSG. Of all his songs, however, “Uptown Girl” is one of my favorites. Anyone who claims “Uptown Girl” isn’t catchy is lying; the rhythm is infectious and conveys the song’s status as a cheerful earworm. The song is playful and light; it stands in perfect contrast to “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Nostalgic vocals back the lively chorus, giving the song a danceable beat.
The last throwback song on my list is “Call Me” by Blondie. Showcasing the vocals of female singer Debbie Harry, Blondie was among the first bands to show that girls could rock and roll alongside the guys. A quintessential eighties band, Blondie’s other hits included “One Way or Another” and “Heart of Glass.” “Call Me,” which was Billboard’s most popular single in 1980, pairs girly pop vocals with a steady and tempestuous drum beat underneath. The vocals are certainly part of the rock genre; the song, like “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” prioritizes instrumentals over vocals, which is common among classic rock songs. The simplicity of the vocals and the driving beat gives the song its iconic reputation.
I hope these three throwback songs will provide you with a little nostalgia and encourage you to listen to classic rock. In our modern era of auto-tune and rap, it’s always nice to hear the bands and singers who put the era of popular music into motion. Happy listening!
By Alyssa Chen (VI)
V Yan Hot Pot: one of the joys of living anywhere near Parsippany, where this recently opened hot pot restaurant is located. For anyone searching for authentic Chinese hot pot, a great deal, and a fun group meal, I would highly recommend visiting this local gem located only thirty minutes from Pingry.
First: what is hot pot? I don’t blame you for maybe not knowing; the only time I had hot pot before V Yan opened was in China when I was much younger or at the homes of family friends. Hot pot, according to the ultimate knowledge source Wikipedia (which I think sums up the idea well) is “a Chinese soup containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table.”
The main idea—at least at V Yan, where each individual has their own hot pot—is that you cook your own personal soup using raw ingredients. The ingredients added to the broth, which is kept boiling at the table by a flame or by electricity, usually include thinly sliced meat (my favorite is lamb), vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, and noodles. These ingredients are then spooned out of the broth and dipped in a sauce.
Doesn’t sound too appetizing? Before I went to V Yan, I would have agreed with you—in fact, as a young kid trying hot pot out for the first time, I could not understand why people enjoyed it. However, after trying it again in Parsippany, I realized not only that hot pot is delicious and flavorful, but also that it offers a unique and creative eating experience to all who try it.
V Yan in particular offers great deals along with its fresh ingredients and exciting atmosphere. All-you-can-eat hot pot is $22, and the lunch special, which includes a set amount of ingredients, is only $12. Plus, V Yan offers a wide range of sauces to mix and has free ice cream for those who are still hungry after eating hot pot. V Yan also offers cook-your-own BBQ, an option which I have not yet tried. However, I can attest to the quality of its hot pot, and I can guess that the same guarantee applies to its BBQ. I can also attest to the authenticity of V Yan—according to my parents, who have both visited many hot pot restaurants in mainland China, V Yan offers a similar experience with ingredients that are just as good and prices that are often better than its counterparts in China.
I’d recommend getting a reservation before you go—the wait can be long, especially on weekend nights. And, once more, I want to encourage hot pot novices and experts alike to go check out V Yan Hot Pot.
By Aneesh Karuppur ’21
The start of the new year always marks the release of new tech. In this column, I will talk about the latest technology releases, products, and news. I will also report on updates in Pingry technology.
What’s happening in the Student Technology Committee (STC)? This past fall, STC sent out an application and accepted new members to its team. Currently, the Acceptable Use Policy is being revised to become more relevant to the community’s use of technology. STC is also interviewing students and faculty for feedback on Schoology, the online classroom platform that classes are currently using after the switch from Moodle. Furthermore, the virtual reality group is working on implementing Pingry’s VR system into multiple fields of the school. Finally, the coding group is modernizing the Community Service Portal using the programming language, HTML.
In January, the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 (CES 2018), where technology products are released and updated, took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here are a few of the releases that I found particularly interesting:
First, smart mirrors began gaining prevalence in this year’s show — think the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter, which shows your heart’s deepest desires, though these smart mirrors aren’t quite as developed as the Mirror of Erised just yet. The Haier Magic Mirror allows you to try on articles of clothing virtually by superimposing images of clothing onto your reflection in the mirror. The clothes are scanned into the system via a Radio-Frequency Identification tag embedded in them. The HiMirror Mini is another interesting glass gizmo that allows you to track the effects of different skin care treatments.
Another interesting release is the rollable Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), a 65-inch diagonal monitor created by LG. When not in use, the monitor, which can be used as a TV, can be rolled up into a long cylinder. The user can change how much of the monitor can be viewed by controlling how much of it is rolled up, similar to the way a projector screen can be pulled down at different lengths. This flexibility allows for different scaling options and optimizes the screen for different content.
My last pick is the Vivo X20 Plus UD, an innovative smartphone with a fingerprint scanner underneath the screen. One of the biggest questions leading up to the launch of the iPhone X was whether or not it would have an on-screen fingerprint scanner, since there would no longer be a home button that doubled as a scanner. Well, we now know the answer to that: no. While FaceID is a good substitute, fingerprint scanners work better in certain scenarios. It is a big deal that Vivo was able to keep a fingerprint scanner on a bezel-less screen without putting it in a less intuitive place like the back (á la the Samsung Galaxy S8/Note 8 and the Google Pixel 2). Hopefully, we will see this technology in more upcoming phone releases.
Apple made waves recently with its long-awaited launch of the HomePod. Although the release date was a smidge late (two or three months behind schedule), the smart speaker has racked up lots of good reviews and ratings. The HomePod is essentially a high-quality speaker with advanced Siri and “smart home” functionality, as well as the ability to play music from the Apple Music streaming service. The HomePod features impressive sound, coming from a large “woofer” on top and seven “tweeters” on the bottom — an unorthodox layout. Sandwiched in between them is a six microphone array, which assures that Siri can hear you over loud music. The HomePod only works within the Apple ecosystem, which means that you will need an iPhone 5s or later running iOS 11 to operate it. The $350 price tag makes it a tough sell since it’s stuck in Apple’s ecosystem of products, but Apple fans should find it a reasonable purchase.
By Alexis Elliot ’18
Black History Month is a time to learn, remember, and celebrate the past and present achievements of African-Americans. This year, Black History Month also included the debut of Black Panther, the highly anticipated Marvel film that ties together all the values of Black History Month, inducing feelings of empowerment and cultural celebration.
The film opens with an introduction to the fictional nation of Wakanda in East Africa. Many centuries ago, this nation was struck by a meteorite that contained vibranium, the most powerful metal on Earth. Wakanda then unlocked the powers of the Black Panther and five tribes emerged. Because of the strength of the vibranium, the citizens of Wakanda did not want it to fall in the wrong hands; thus, using the vibranium, they concealed their gorgeous and technologically advanced world to appear like a barren third world country.
Unfortunately, the King of Wakanda is killed while presenting at a United Nations Press Conference. His son, T’challa, is left behind and must assume the role of the new King of Wakanda. The powers of the Black Panther are transferred to T’challa and he must ensure that there is peace both inside and outside of Wakanda’s invisible walls. One key component of Wakanda is that they have undercover spies posted in various global locations to inform the home base of any dangers to their safety.
One of the recurring problems that T’challa and the kingdom of Wakanda face is the notorious arms dealer, Ulysses Klaue. Earlier, Klaue had found a way to break into Wakanda and steal some vibranium. Ever since then, he used the powerful metal to illegally create and sell deadly weapons. T’Challa, with the aid of his female sidekicks Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri, go to South Korea on what they believe to be an easy mission to finally capture Klaue. However, T’Challa meets his match, an outsider who possesses a vibranium chain.
At the same time, a former member of Wakanda betrays the kingdom by trying to expose all of Wakanda’s resources to the world and potentially causing ruin and destruction if the vibranium ends up in the wrong hands. Black Panther and the entire Wakandan kingdom therefore face a problem that is even more potent than protecting their precious vibranium: how to address a traitor.
Black Panther is a movie filled with action packed scenes, beautiful landscapes of the fictional African nation, and many drops of humor. Even though the film was a little over two hours, my eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. Aside from the brilliantly written plot, a major highlight of this movie was the African-American representation in the cast. Cast members included Chadwick Boseman (who starred as the Black Panther), Michael B Jordan (who played the Wakanda outsider and eventual villain), Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, and Daniel Kaluuya.
Another key element in Black Panther was female empowerment. Most, if not all, of King T’Challa’s main advisors are women. The strongest warriors in Wakanda are also women. Furthermore, the soundtrack for the movie adds to the theme of African-American empowerment with top artists such as Kendrick Lamar and SZA contributing to the score. This powerful representation of African-Americans and strong women in the cast helped Black Panther become the fantastic film that it is.
As a young African-American woman, it felt good to finally see people who look like me being in the majority of a movie’s characters. Usually, superhero movies have a token Black person as a minor or stereotypical character. Black Panther rose above this norm and empowered African-Americans to take on strong roles. Black Panther is definitely a must-see movie. The electrifying music, cast, and plot make this movie excellent. I’m already planning for when I can rewatch it!
By Ethan Chung ’18
There are few things in which I have expertise, and Korean Barbeque is one of them. If you ever wish to experience some of the best Korean food—barbeque included—I, a Korean American well-versed in the world of Korean cuisine, highly recommend a restaurant called Chung Dam Dong.
It is well worth the trip to New Jersey’s Koreatown in Palisades Park to have a taste of authentic Korean food done right. There are plenty of other great Korean Barbecue places in the Fort Lee/Palisades Park Koreatown area, but the quality of meat and the banchan (the included side dishes) are what make Chung Dam Dong stand out.
Whenever eating out is an option, I always push for this restaurant. I get excited every time I see the waitress bring the circular tray of raw meats bathing in a sweet and savory marinade of sesame oil and soy sauce. The platter contains a surplus of short rib pieces, thinly sliced so they can soak up as much succulent marinade as they can and also cook faster on the grill that awaits.
The waitress places the raw short rib pieces on the grill, built into the table, so you can enjoy the smell and the sounds of the choice cuts before you have the honor of tasting them. Once cooked, the waitress uses her metal tongs to hand-deliver the pieces of short rib, or “kalbi,” to your plate.
Unlike some other Korean restaurants, Chung Dam Dong’s kalbi is not served with the attached bones, making the process of quickly devouring the beef right as it leaves the grill very easy. Some like to eat the kalbi by wrapping it in lettuce. I, on the other hand, think that doing so is too time consuming; therefore, I choose to enjoy my kalbi with rice and the restaurant’s homemade ssamjang, a mixture of miso paste and red chili paste.
When you bite into each piece of short rib, it almost falls apart in your mouth; it’s that tender and delicate. Chung Dam Dong doesn’t serve the sad version of Korean barbeque involving tough, chewy pieces of meat where you have to maneuver your way around the remaining bones and fat. No, this restaurant provides exquisite morsels of well-marbled short rib that pack a sweet, savory, and umami-filled punch, leaving you wanting more.
But it’s not just kalbi that Chung Dam Dong does right. I always look forward to the banchan, the free side dishes that provide you with a colorful array of small bites to keep you occupied when waiting for your entrée—think of banchan as a more plentiful amuse-bouche. The selection of included banchan dishes always changes. In the many times I’ve dined at Chung Dang Dong, some of the more memorable banchan plates include fried mackerel, steamed egg, fried chicken, fried tofu, porridge, kimchi, and fishcake.
At Chung Dang Dong, I’ve never had to place a reservation or wait too long to be seated, as service is fast and space is ample. The wait staff are all very kind and are always willing to throw in a free bowl of rice or extra servings of a banchan dish you particularly enjoyed. Make the trip to this restaurant in Palisades Park and you will leave with a warm sense of comfort that only excellent homemade food can give you.
By Vicky Chen (V)
Named the Best Picture of 2017 by L.A. Critics, Luca Guadagnino’s controversial Call Me By Your Name explores the harrowing coming-of-age experiences of first love and identity. The movie stars Timothee Chalamet as 17-year-old Italian-American Elio and features his time spent one summer at his family’s villa in northern Italy. Armie Hammer is introduced as the early-20s, charming, all-American Oliver, who has come to the villa to study with Elio’s father, a professor of Greco-Roman culture.
The film explores the tumbling romance that develops slowly between Elio and Oliver, navigating the turns of life that summer throws at them. Elio spends his summer days playing and composing music for the piano and guitar, biking around the stunning scenery of Crema, Italy, and reading books in the sun. Oliver proves to be a social butterfly in this new community; he wins the affection of Elio’s parents quickly, as well as the admiration of all the girls. Elio watches Oliver from the side, quietly keeping to himself. Their relationship begins to slowly develop from their furtive dinner-table interactions into something much more.
As the story is told from Elio’s point of view, his crush on Oliver begins to escalate and reveal more about his character. Chalamet portrays his teenage character perfectly, allowing the audience insight into the vulnerability of discovering one’s identity. The audience is there at every step as Elio explores his final summer before adulthood. He struggles with his sexual identity, maintaining a sexual but emotionless relationship with a girl around the neighborhood, all while constantly keeping his eye on Oliver. Even though the connection between Elio and Oliver is apparent from the start, both of them work hard to maintain a cold distance between themselves. The movie comes to a climax towards the end, when the tension between the two is finally acknowledged, and they begin an electrifying, mesmerizing, and short-lived hidden relationship.
The realistic portrayal and attention to detail in this film makes it extraordinarily special. Guadagnino maneuvers the sluggish summer days gracefully, depicting a lush and beautiful setting that envelops the viewer in its authenticity. As Elio and Oliver’s relationship becomes deeper, their interactions become increasingly awkward. However, it is not bad acting that creates this tension between the characters—their interactions are written to be painfully realistic in their long pauses and flustered statements. Guadagnino perfectly portrays the teenage clumsiness of navigating a first love.
Additionally, Guadagnino manages to integrate every aspect of an idyllic summer into the background of the movie. Using an emphasis on nature and a nonchalant pace, Guadagnino is able to replicate an end-of-summer sense of drowsiness and fulfillment. His visual choices and cinematography enable the viewer to feel present in the scene.
The movie ends with an incredibly intimate scene as Elio sits in front of the fireplace, grief-stricken with emotion after learning over the phone about Oliver’s engagement. Everything around him is dynamic, from the flames into which he is staring to the people hustling in the background. As the eerily powerful “Videos of Gideon” by Sufjan Stevens plays softly, tears slowly fall down Elio’s face over the course of three minutes. This finale reiterates the rocky journey of adolescence and emphasizes the impact of not only a first great love, but a first great loss.