February 4, 2018

Staring into the fireplace as the credits roll by

Here’s what I will remember most after watching Call Me By Your Name: the face of Elio Perlman, staring into the fireplace, as the credits roll by before he gets called to dinner.

The scene is indelible for many reasons—one of them being that Timothée Chalamet performs it marvellously, with nuance and emotion—but is resonant mainly because it is relatable: how many of us have gone through this same transformation in a matter of minutes, from devastated and grief-stricken to the quiet acceptance of a life that won’t always go our way but we are all the more richer for having lived it?

Elio’s face begins in tears and ends, several minutes later, in a small and barely noticeable smile. The emotional journey is evocative because we see—in his eyes, his nervous twitches, his quivering lips—that he is hurt but not broken, that he feels pain while still being nostalgic for the joys. His face reminds us that there is happiness hidden in all anguish, and that we must give ourselves time to rediscover those joys as we grieve.

Sometimes, we take that time staring into the fireplace, and come to some kind of peace—even if short-lived—before being called for dinner.

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