INT. PERLMAN STUDIO - PERLMAN VILLA - EVENING/NIGHT
Professor PERLMAN is sitting in his usual place, but his chair is turned out to face the garden. On his lap are proofs of his latest book. He is drinking. Three large citronella candles next to him keep the mosquitoes away.
ELIO comes into the room to say good night. His father puts away his manuscript with a toss and lights a cigarette – his last of the day - using one of the citronella candles.
So? Welcome home. Did Oliver enjoy the trip?
I think he did.
PERLMAN takes a drag from his cigarette, then pauses a moment before speaking.
You two had a nice friendship.
Another pause, and another drag on his cigarette.
You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special, what you two had was.
Oliver was Oliver.
“Parce-que c’etait lui, parce-que c’etait moi.”
(trying to avoid talking about Oliver with his father)
Oliver may be very intelligent –
(interrupting his son)
Intelligent? He was more than intelligent. What you two had had everything and nothing to do with intelligence. He was good, and you were both lucky to have found each other, because you too are good.
I think he was better than me.
I’m sure he’d say the same thing about you, which flatters the two of you.
In tapping his cigarette and leaning toward the ashtray, he reaches out and touches Elio’s hand. PERLMAN alters his tone of voice (his tone says: We don’t have to speak about it, but let’s not pretend we don’t know what I’m saying).
When you least expect it, Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot. Just remember: I am here. Right now you may not want to feel anything. Perhaps you never wished to feel anything. And perhaps it’s not to me that you’ll want to speak about these things. But feel something you obviously did.
ELIO looks at his father, then drops his eyes to the floor.
Look - you had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, to pray that their sons land on their feet. But
I am not such a parent. In your place, if there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out. Don’t be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste!
ELIO is dumbstruck as he tries to take all this in.
Have I spoken out of turn?
ELIO shakes his head.
Then let me say one more thing. It will clear the air. I may have come close, but I never had what you two had. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business. Remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it and with it the joy you’ve felt.
PERLMAN takes a breath.
We may never speak about this again. But I hope you’ll never hold it against me that we did. I will have been a terrible father if, one day, you’d want to speak to me and felt that the door was shut, or not sufficiently open.
Does mother know?
I don’t think she does.
(but his voice means “Even if she did, I am sure her attitude would be no different than mine”)