James Ivory receives sole credit for Call Me By Your Name screenplay

Luca Guadagnino explains how he came to direct

by Anne-Katrin Titze

John Waters gets a smile from James Ivory who will now be credited as the sole screenwriter of Call Me By Your Name
John Waters gets a smile from James Ivory who will now be credited as the sole screenwriter of Call Me By Your Name Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

In an arbitration hearing initiated by James Ivory, The Writers Guild of America has acknowledged that he be credited as the sole screenwriter of Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name (Chiamami Con Il Tuo Nome) for the work he did on the adaptation of André Aciman's novel.

Elio (Timothée Chalamet) with Oliver (Armie Hammer)
Elio (Timothée Chalamet) with Oliver (Armie Hammer)

At the New York Film Festival press conference last month Luca Guadagnino gave some background on how he took over to become director from James Ivory.

He had been approached by Peter Spears, who, together with Howard Rosenman was one of the original producers. They kept "nurturing this movie until now," he said and were developing the script from the book by Aciman with Ivory. "Because the book was set in Italy they wanted to have my opinion," said Guadagnino. An early script was written by a young writer who was supposed to be the director of the production. They started scouting, things fell through. James Ivory and Peter Spears knew each other and with a lot of difficulties and changes in who was filling what position, they managed to make the film happen with Guadagnino directing after a long process.

Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino
Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Luca Guadagnino: "The ways of cinema are always very cruel, complicated, difficult, merciless, and among the unfairness of life, there is also the one which is that we couldn't put together the movie directed by James Ivory. Because it was a much more costly film, it was a different film that didn't meet the standards of the market. I have to be blunt. That's it. In fact, he was very generous when Peter went to him and said: 'It's very difficult, actually it's impossible. There is a possibility to make a tiny teeny version of the same film if Luca does it. Something that requires less money and less shooting time. Would you bless the choice?' And he said 'Sure.' Because he wrote the script but we wrote it together. We'd been together. So I knew the script by heart. I think we are completely different directors. For many different reasons. He is American and I'm Italian, different generations."

Call Me By Your Name stars Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet with Michael Stuhlbarg, Esther Garrel, and Amira Casar. The majority of Guadagnino's mesmerising tale of first love is set in a beautiful, lived-in, perfectly imperfect villa and its surroundings near a small village in Northern Italy. It is the summer of 1983 and teenage Elio (Chalamet) and his parents are expecting this year's summer guest.

Oliver (Hammer, better than ever) is the chosen graduate student, invited by Elio's professor father (Stuhlbarg) to do research with him and enjoy the enchanted place. Conversations in the house and with friends switch effortlessly between English, Italian and French. Guadagnino shows the fascinating dance of seduction, longing, doubt, courage, and excitement, that is as subtle and precise as it is universal.

Elio and Oliver hike up to a waterfall in Call Me By Your Name
Elio and Oliver hike up to a waterfall in Call Me By Your Name

Marzia (Esther Garrel) and Chiara (Victoire Du Bois), two French girls, friends of the family, who spend their summers in the same spot, experience their own awakening of feelings. Their insecurities and desires are not given the same amount of space as the love story between Elio and Oliver, but their emotions aren't treated as asides.

Elio's mother Annella (Amira Cesar) reads her son and husband an excerpt from a 16th century romance by Marguerite de Navarre about a knight and a princess. "What is better, to speak or to die?" How do you tell someone how you feel? "Words don't come easy," the pop song on the radio blasts into the air.

Michael Stuhlbarg, who deserves to be awarded movie father of the year for his role as professor Perlman, delivers a fantastic speech about parental love that is devoid of cliché and puts into words what children growing up all over the world can mostly only dream of. He is the kind father dominating past and future - who lets rise up an ancient statue out of Lago di Garda and passes on open-minded wisdom to his son about the treasure of pain in love.

Call Me By Your Name is in cinemas in the UK and opens in the US on November 24.

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