One of the most groundbreaking films of 2017 was the coming-of-age romance Call Me By Your Name, starring Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. The film earned itself four Oscar nominations and one win. The story followed the tale of two lovers opening up about their true nature to themselves in a stunningly well told narrative.
Screenwriter James Ivory, who won an Oscar for writing the film, took a great sense of pride in Call Me By Your Name, as Ivory himself is gay. He took great leaps to make the story and dialogue as realistic as possible. In fact, the word “gay” is never mentioned in the film, making the love story as natural as possible.
Unfortunately, Ivory was not completely pleased with the final cut of the film. While Call Me By Your Name managed to accurately show the romance and struggles between these two lovers, what Ivory found to be the most unrealistic was the lack of frontal nudity in the film. Ivory told this to The Guardian.
“When people are wandering around before or after making love, and they’re decorously covered with sheets, it’s always seemed phoney to me. I never liked doing that. And I don’t do it, as you know.”
Apparently, Ivory actually wrote in the script a scene where Oliver and Elio were hanging around the house post-coitus, completely nude. According to Ivory, he and director Luca Guadagnino discussed the nude moment in question and decided to go through with it, until Guadagnino backed out without informing the screenwriter.
“When Luca says he never thought of putting nudity in, that is totally untrue. 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 bull****… 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. Well …”
Ivory was clearly not pleased with this change to his script. Reportedly, the change was made because the contracts for both actors prevented either of them from appearing in full-frontal nudity. While this is understandable, Ivory was irritated that Guadagnino didn’t at least fight those parts of their contracts, or search for actors who would be willing to fulfill the needs specified in the Oscar-winning script.
This actually brings up another point in Hollywood, as female actresses are actually required to appear nude a lot more than males. If the script was about two female characters and the two stars declined to have a nude scene, they quickly would’ve been replaced by actresses that were more willing to fulfill the roles. However, since male nudity is not nearly as common as female nudity, the director and studio didn’t feel the need to fight in the case of Call Me By Your Name and compromised one of the most intimate moments from the script.
While the film was certainly excellent even with the full-frontal moments being cut, James Ivory seems to think it could have been better. Not only would it have been more realistic, but it also could’ve added to the intimacy and emotion of the narrative. While it is not uncommon for screenwriters to be irritated by their scripts being changed, one can’t help but wonder if Ivory is right in being irritated by this omission.