From Manuscript to Screenplay: “Call Me By Your Name”

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Peach pits, Monet’s berm, red, blue, yellow and green swim trunks; miscommunicated glances, arbitrary shoulder rubs, and drunken hours of the early morning in Rome. All trademarks of the relationship that flourished  between 17-year-old, Elio, and American graduate student, Oliver, in the summer of 1983 “somewhere in Northern Italy.”

Taking a novel and turning into a feature film is always a risk when trying to capture the complete essence of the book, pleasing its readers and honoring the author who put everything they had into manufacturing their own written microcosm of the world.

The case was no different when director, Luca Guadagnino, decided to bring André Aciman’s tale of total intimacy, “Call Me By Your Name,” to the silver screen.

Controversy was present at the announcement of the film due to the fact that both actors cast for the roles of Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) identify as heterosexual males. Representation in the media has begun to improve in the United States but its details like this casting that left a bitter taste in the mouths of those who felt still underrepresented.

However, Guadagnino is an openly gay man and has spoken on multiple occasions of why he didn’t explicitly seek out gay actors to fill the roles.

“I only cast the actors and actresses I fall in love with,” says Guadagnino, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Truly having an emotion for them, an anticipation and enthusiasm when seeing them—and I believe that my emotional confidence in them blends into chemistry

The book is written from Elio’s point of view which allows for much more of an internal struggle to be present throughout the storyline that couldn’t necessarily be translated into the film without direct dialogue.

There were a few specific scenes in the movie that were slightly altered intentionally to either lighten the intensity of the subject matter or possibly provide a new, interesting perspective or interpretation.

With nuances that allude to forbidden fruit, the infamous peach scene unfolds and creates quite the shocking occurrence within the book, while the movie makes a slight change that some might say takes away from the power behind the scene.

Having said this, the film itself does have an incredibly artful cinematic impact on whoever watches. Having its initial success at the Sundance Film Festival, it quickly became one of the most anticipated films of the year.

The on-camera chemistry was undeniable between the two—and it was a complex chemistry at that. The strain, confusion and mutual desire could be read across each of their faces and it fed the visual narrative such sweet fruit.

There are peaks and pits to any movie adaptation of a respected piece of literature, but for most, the overall emotion felt as the credits played next to a wintered Elio—mourning the loss of what some might describe as his innocence—was satisfaction.

The best plan of action still seems to be: read the book first, watch the film second. It’s always better to see where it all came from.

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