The Q&A Debrief: Luca Guadagnino, Timothée Chalamet and (surprise!) Armie Hammer
On Saturday 27th January, 2018, Curzon audiences were treated to a Call Me By Your Name Q&A held at Curzon Soho with the film's director Luca Guadagnino, its star Timothée Chalamet, and a surprise special guest in the form of Armie Hammer dressed in a bright red Adidas tracksuit.
The sold out screening was alive with excited conversation and anticipation. The affection for this remarkable film was palpable, and we were overwhelmed by the positive response we received from those in attendance, and those who sadly missed out on a ticket. The screening was followed by a Q&A led by The Telegraph's Robbie Collin, with the discussion later opened out to audience members who once again amazed us with their sincerity and insightful questions.
Here's what you need to know...
Director Luca Guadagnino originally wanted to retain the first person narration from the novel in the form of a voiceover. Separately, he asked indie legend Sufjan Stevens about using his song ‘Futile Devices’ as part of the soundtrack, but the “aching poetry” of Sufjan’s songs prompted Luca to ask Sufjan if he would appear in the film as a narrator to voice the adult Elio. Sufjan replied “no way!” to the voiceover gig, but a few weeks later he sent Luca a new arrangement of ‘Futile Devices’ rewritten for the piano (which is very much Elio’s instrument), as well as two original songs for the film: ‘Mystery of Love’ (now Oscar nominated!) and ‘Visions of Gideon’ (which plays across the final scene and the end credits). When he heard the new songs, Luca immediately knew where in the film they belonged.
The closing scene
When the final scene was shot, Timothée Chalamet had an invisible earpiece playing the song ‘Visions of Gideon’ so that he could work with the music and react to the song’s lyrics for his beautiful sustained close-up.
“I have loved you for the last time / is it a video?”
The primary inspiration for that shot was the ending of Richard Linklater's Boyhood.
Costume designer Giulia Piersanti worked exclusively with clothing from the era in which the film is set. Most of Elio’s clothes were items that had belonged to her husband when he was a teenager in 1980s Italy. Armie Hammer found the super short shorts a bit of a challenge - you can see the tan lines from his preferred short length in the film!
The dream sequence
Luca wanted to give the audience a quick glimpse into Elio’s dreams. His editor Walter Fasano was concerned that this would break the register of the film, so they tested using a negative colour sequence to create a bespoke visual language for a dream sequence. The footage they used in the moment at the hotel in Bergamo, when Elio is asleep and Oliver is looking out of the window, is from a scene that was shot and not used in which Elio and Oliver return to Crema and climb up the Piave monument as a love-drunk dare. Luca also wanted to include a negative colour sequence to pay homage to one of his favourite films, Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear.
No CMBYN discussion would be complete without acknowledging the peach! But Timothée Chalamet said that, while the scene seemed ‘nuts’ on paper, it was in fact quite natural to shoot. The trick was to avoid the comedy and not to feel self-conscious, trying to explore Elio’s curiosity. By contrast, he found the scenes where Elio was riding bicycles in the Italian heat and playing the piano much more nerve-wracking.
The possibilities of impossibility
When Elio and Oliver climb up the mountain to reach the waterfall, there’s an odd moment when Oliver stops and turns around with an amazed smile on his face. When the scene was shot by the Serio Waterfalls (in the Orobie Alps near Bergamo), Luca wanted to get a reaction of surprise out of Armie Hammer and so, while the crew and location managers were waiting for the local dam to be opened and the waterfall to start rushing down the mountain for the scene, Luca walked over to Armie and said “in this scene I want you to think about the possibilities of impossibility”. Armie was confused.
Luca: “Yes, the possibilities of impossibility!”
Luca could hear that the water was about to start falling, so he gave Armie a shove and repeated: “the possibilities of impossibility! Go!” and he quickly called “action!” Armie started climbing and then turned around in complete bafflement, allowing Luca to capture his astonished smile. (And no, we're not sure what the possibilities of impossibility" are either!)
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME: FEAT. LUCA GUADAGNINO | THe CURZON FILM PODCAST
For more on Call Me By Your Name, listen to our review on the Curzon Film Podcast, which includes an interview with the director, Luca Guadagnino. Discussing the film are Irene Musumeci and Jake Cunningham.