Call Me by Your Name, Lolita and taming discomfiting desires on the big screen

Posted on January 29, 2018


Read the full article on Firstpost, here:

Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name has been in the news for a while, most recently because it was nominated for four Academy Awards (including Best Picture). And it is a very good film, a textbook example for what a director does – that is, orchestrating mood and texture and a tone of performance. But it’s also very different from the novel it’s based on, by André Aciman. I read the book after watching the movie, and was startled by how much “mainstreaming” has been done – either due to squeamishness (the “will we turn off audiences?” question) or a sort of better-safe-than-sorry rationale with an eye on the box office. (“You don’t want to end up in a space in which people giggle,” Guadagnino said).

I’m talking not just about the tweaking of the now-famous peach scene (where Elio masturbates into the fruit, and the subsequent actions of his lover, Oliver), but also the omission of the following passage from the book: “We had never taken a shower together. We had never even been in the same bathroom together. ‘Don’t flush,” I’d said. ‘I want to look.’ What I saw brought out strains of compassion, for him, for his body, for his life, which suddenly seemed so frail and vulnerable. ‘Our bodies won’t have any secrets now,’ I said as I took my turn and sat down… [He] kissed me on the mouth, and, pressing and massaging my tummy with the flat of his palm, watched the whole thing happen.”

Writing in Vulture, E Alex Jung, put it beautifully. “It’s a bizarre, beautiful scene, precisely because Elio wants to get to a place where even the most private, mundane bodily functions become acts of intimacy.” The part where Oliver helps Elio vomit is not there, either. “I opened my mouth. Before I knew it I was sick as soon as he touched my uvula. But what a solace to have my head held, what selfless courage to hold someone’s head while he’s vomiting. Would I have had it in me to do the same for him?”

Continued at the link above.

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