Call me by your name
Text Carlo Mazzoni
Morning cycling, the summer, the soft warm weather – going and getting some flatbread, buying the newspaper, going to the post office. Afternoons distant from sultriness – hours spent in the bedroom between light sleep and books – the window is open, overlooking the shadow of a linden tree. In the garden, a stone tub with torrent water, in the cornfields when the sun scorches, but it does not stifle you anymore – along the river, ears in the burnt wind kiss your feet, your lips – on the edge, underneath an oak that indents light – the sunset is still faraway. Those endless days of a never-ending summer – in the old village, country Italy. Having dinner under the pergola, light and shades, the cricket sound, some fireflies in the grass – and then out again cycling, the company of your age group, the tables of a café, the music of a jukebox, the moon, kisses and hands everywhere.
Harmony is the most striking aspect: Guadagnino’s taste in composing the actors, the scripts, the subject. In the first turns of the love story, when Elio, still a raw youth, transforms himself into a shy predator, Ivory’s dialogues catch the balance of contradictions of a human character: Elio is shameless and yet nervous – you know this is the way it goes, and you cannot stop the heart by saying ‘all right, but this is a movie’. Ivory tells about a pose amidst shyness and the storm you own when you haven’t still experienced anything, but you got dirty – but you have read all the books which you came across.
All eyes are on Armie Hammer, the girls want him, the parents adore him, the public is eager – but after the first half-hour, all are obsessed with Timothée. Too young to be handsome, too lanky to be sensual. When playing the piano, he is seized by Bach confusing challenge with attraction, a male agitating like a still virgin Lolita. He gives Oliver to understand, not mince words, what he wants. Oliver is dazed, he replies that Elio is hindering him.
The kiss scene was the first to be rehearsed. The two actors had just met, they were just arrived on the set. A not too grassy glade is the set of the rehearsal of scene no. 71 – the two actors skim over the script – there are no words in this scene, it’s all about making out – poking, kissing, touching each other. They start – they go on until when they find out that the director has gone leaving them that way – making out. Ice has not broken, says Timothée, it has crumbled. Again, you could have played the scene on the grass, the first kiss of the film, this is Guadagnino’s power, you do not stand there saying ‘all right, but this is a movie’. Then Oliver touches his mouth with hazard, Elio opens his wet lips and touches his fingers with his tongue calmly – it is all a game, between two heterosexual men who are tasting each other, having some fun and kidding themselves. When Oliver says no, it is not allowed – you remember – it is a stop sign meaning I am yours.
The two actors are heterosexual in their lives, this is how they are introduced in their roles at the beginning of the film. In the love story, a hidden heterosexuality remains and makes their relationship a universal story. The sobriety, the balance and harmony of the history are stunning. Nothing forced, nothing above the lines – everything has the same rhythm of a summer sunny afternoon. Sex is made by two friends, a July experience that will remain in your heart, though your life might overcome it by taking another direction. The conversation with the father is a heyday: the light and the framing on Elio’s face create contrasting shades. Pay attention to this, when you will watch it – Elio is on the sofa, his father is comforting him: the camera frames Elio’s face – Elio has never been that handsome in the whole movie, and it is right that he appears that handsome only at the end of the narration. A love story lasting for three, four weeks – tears, desolation, nostalgia, a punch in the stomach. A crush we all had, a crush that has always finished on a train platform: the lines, the train leaving, these are closing breaks – but they are also infinite paths. If today we are in love, if today we are happy, then it is because our heart is broken.
Crema, Cremona, until the Alps of Bergamo – the Italian summer does not take place at the seaside, but in a town in the Po valley depicted by Guadagnino like a melting-pot of literature and art, multi-ethnic and polyglot. The whole film is based on human beings soaked with culture, knowledge and pleasure – without this sophistication, nothing here would be possible. A professor of archaeology receives eccentric English speaking characters, two French sisters live next-door, provincial guys are dressed better that those from the rive gauche or Brera quarter, a finding from the School of Praxiteles resurfaces in Sirmione. This corner over the Po valley is a literary licence, as it is described like an edition of the society on Lucca hills around Villa La Pietra, at the times of Harold Acton. Guadagnino – it is certain already – continues with Visconti: the composure, the fullness and the harmony of this movie outperforms the master with heart austerity.
The sentence in Aciman’s book is not mentioned in the movie. Tears roll down like when you stood on the platform and the train was running away from you. I stopped for a second. If you remember everything, l wanted to say, and if you are really like me, then before you leave tomorrow, or when you‘re just ready to shut the door of the taxi and have already said goodbye to everyone else and there’s not a thing left to say in this life, then, just this once, turn to me, even in jest, or as an afterthought, which would have meant everything to me when we were together, and, as you did back then, look me in the face, hold my gaze, and call me by your name.