A Love Letter to the Last Scene of Call Me By Your Name



Winter, 2018. Definitely in Los Angeles and my heart still aches weeks after seeing Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name.

Between the outstanding acting of Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet and the lush scenery of Northern Italy, its easy to see why this film is getting so much buzz. But there’s one scene, and one song I want to talk about it. One moment that’s haunted me nearly a month later.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, you may want to click away now. But seriously, why haven’t you seen it yet??


That last scene. Sufjan Stevens’ “Visions of Gideon” plays softly as Chalamet’s Elio crouches in front of a fire, looking into the embers as tears fall down his face. After a minute, the title appears and the end credits roll. In the theater nobody moved from his or her seat. Nobody dared to.

The scene works flawlessly in so many ways. Its simple, there’s nothing flashy about it. Its all Elio breaking down as he reflects on the end of his relationship with Oliver. Behind him his mother and housekeeper prepare for dinner. He’s undisturbed by their bustling, unbothered by the fly that lands on his shoulder. He only moves to wipe away his tears. Its pure magic, and a credit to Chalamet for letting the scene carry out for nearly four minutes. You can feel the passion radiating off the screen. You can’t look away.

The song fits perfectly as well. Having read the book prior to watching the film I wondered how they were going to incorporate Elio’s thoughts and emotions that populated so many of its pages. A draft of the film’s script included narration that was wisely discarded. It would have made the film almost like a fairytale and ruined its authenticity. Instead of narration, we get two perfect and original songs from Sufjan Stevens. “Mystery of Love” plays earlier in the film and “Visions of Gideon” plays in this last scene.

The lyrics fit seamlessly.

            I have loved you for the last time.

            Is it a video? Is it a video?

            I have touched you for the last time.

            Is it a video? Is it a video?

You can almost see Elio replaying every moment in their all too brief but passionate relationship. You can feel his sadness as if it were your own. Like the scene, the song is simplistic but it doesn’t take from its significance. It allows the audience to dwell on the beautiful love story they had just watched. When the lights come up in the theater, they’re quiet, paralyzed for a few moments.

Maybe, like me, they’ll go home to purchase the film’s soundtrack. Reread Andre Aciman’s novel. And wait ever so patiently for the film to come out on DVD.

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