Oscar-Winning Screenwriter James Ivory Has Issues With “Call Me By Your Name”
Even though the Luca Guadagnino-directed Call Me By Your Name has garnered a lot of critical acclaim, it seems James Ivory has some issues with the film he won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for. I agree with James Ivory because Call Me By Your Name had its queerness watered down for the straight audience and hence, as far as I’m concerned, does a disservice to the community it was supposed to represent on the big screen.
In my review of Call Me By Your Name, I mentioned that it was a beautiful film that unfortunately fell into a well-known trope. Furthermore, I also shared my displeasure with how director Luca Guadagnino handled queer intimacy between the two male leads. To me, the film felt like it had deliberately watered down the queerness (mentioned explicitly in the book) to please a straight audience, which is wrong on so many levels as far as I’m concerned.
That’s why I’m glad James Ivory finally decided to spill some more tea. He previously mentioned some of his issues with the film in an interview with Variety.
Do you guys remember when Guadagnino said he wasn’t “interested at all” when it came to adding sex scenes in the film? Well, according to Ivory, that’s not true.
“When Luca says he never thought of putting nudity in, that is totally untrue,” Ivory said in his latest interview with The Guardian. “He sat in this very room where I am sitting now, talking about how he would do it, so when he says that it was a conscious aesthetic decision not to – well, that’s just bullshit.”
Also, clauses in Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer’s contracts, who respectively play Elio and Oliver in the film, also overruled nudity.
Now, I get that many people liked Chalamet and Hammer in the roles. However, considering what Hammer said previously about wanting to pass on the role, I wish Call Me By Your Name had decided to cast two actors who were comfortable with being intimate with each other instead of the leads we got. And yes, I still have the opinion that Hammer was too old to play Oliver.
The moment Guadagnino decided to freaking pan to some trees outside a room while Elio and Oliver were having sex offscreen was when I knew this film would never enter any of my queer film recommendations. Ivory, who showed casual nudity in his films Maurice and Room with a View, had something to say about Guadagnino’s decision.
While mentioning Maurice (which you should all watch), Ivory said, “the two guys have had sex and they get up and you certainly see everything there is to be seen. To me, that’s a more natural way of doing things than to hide them, or to do what Luca did, which is to pan the camera out of the window toward some trees.”
The film could’ve been a lot different (and perhaps a lot better) if Ivory had directed it, instead of Guadagnino, as originally planned. Sigh!
This is not me saying I only care about full-frontal nudity. My point is that Call Me By Your Name deliberately decided to stay away from queer intimacy. If showing Elio reach climax while having sex with his friend Marzia was deemed okay, the film should have shown a similar level of intimacy between Elio and Oliver as well, and it could have been done without full-frontal nudity. But the film did nothing except give us a shot of some trees because the narrow-minded straight audience would’ve had their souls be damaged otherwise.
Anyway, let’s see what happens in the planned sequel.
On a parting note, you should all go and watch the BAFTA nominated God’s Own Country if you want to see how the difference between intimate queer lust and love can be handled well on the big screen.
Did you watch Call Me By Your Name? What do you think of James Ivory’s comments? Let us know.
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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