INT. ELIO'S ROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - AFTERNOON                                                           

 

OLIVER looks around, nostalgic. The art on the walls is different, but the room looks much as it did the summer he first arrived.  He touches the bed and the desk.  He looks out the window as the snow lightly falls.

OLIVER

 It's just as I left it.

ELIO

Every time I come into this room, I think of you.

They passionately kiss, but then OLIVER breaks away.

OLIVER

Some things have changed.

ELIO takes OLIVER'S hand and looks closely at his wedding ring.

ELIO

You mean this? I'm okay with it.

OLIVER

How can you be?

ELIO

Because the butcher isn't in competition with the baker.

Are you jealous when I kiss Marzia?

OLIVER

Of course not.

ELIO

And if I married her...would you still feel the same way about me?

OLIVER

I suppose I would. But that doesn't make it right.

ELIO

I've never loved anyone else.

OLIVER looks surprised.

ELIO (CONT'D)

Oh, I've tried to fall in love again, I really have.  Tried and failed. Lovers have brought me joy or sorrow, threw my life off course or made no difference whatsoever...

OLIVER

Why are you telling me this?

ELIO

Because seven years later, I still worship you, Oliver.   Is it better to speak or to die?

They look at one another intently.

 

OLIVER

Speak.

ELIO

I don't really understand why you are here, but I'm glad that you are.  You make me like who I am, who I become when you're with me.  If there is any truth in the world, it lies when I'm with you...

OLIVER sits on the bed.

OLIVER

You were right. It is chilly in here.

ELIO

I'll go find some more blankets.

OLIVER

 And we should probably push these beds together.

ELIO grins, and OLIVER smiles back and throws a pillow at him.

INT. KITCHEN - PERLMAN VILLA - LATE AFTERNOON

OLIVER is helping MAFALDA and ANNELLA set the table. He lights some candles.

ELIO quietly plays the piano in the next room.

OLIVER 

Where's Anchise?  I haven't seen him since I arrived.

MAFALDA

(crossing herself)

Morto.

OLIVER

What? How?

ANNELLA

Ah, poor Anchise.  Lung cancer.  Two years ago.  He was only forty- nine.

OLIVER

(quietly)

I'm so sorry. I liked him.

ANNELLA

Mafalda, marito un vassoio.  (make my husband a tray)  He should stay in bed.

MAFALDA

Si. Va bene.

OLIVER

Ah, I can take it in to him, Mrs. P.   We want to speak.

INT. MASTER BEDROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - EVENING

PERLMAN sits propped up on a massive, four-poster bed. He wears silk pajamas and an embroidered robe. He is surrounded by papers and books. A large chandelier directly overhead illuminates the room. OLIVER enters with the tray of food.

OLIVER

 May I come in, Professor?

PERLMAN

(motioning)

Of course. Please.

OLIVER sets the tray down on the bed.

PERLMAN (CONT'D)

Pour us both some wine.

OLIVER pours two glasses from a sideboard. PERLMAN closes his eyes, breathing in the wine, smiling.

PERLMAN (CONT'D)

L'chaim, my dear friend.

They clink their glasses.

OLIVER

To life, Professor. To life.

PERLMAN

So, sit, I know you have a lot on your mind.  Tell me.

OLIVER

No, Pro. I want to hear about this new book!  Elio says you're very excited.

PERLMAN

Yes, of course. I'll tell you all about it, but first you tell me why you're in Italy instead of with your family for Hanukkah.

OLIVER looks at his hands.

OLIVER

It's complicated.

PERLMAN

Then tell me about this beard.  It ages you, Oliver, and you have the face  of a Greek God.

Who are you hiding from?

OLIVER

Only myself, Professor. Only myself.

 

PERLMAN

Ah, an honest answer.

 

OLIVER

I had some trouble at Columbia, you know.  I'm on disciplinary probation.

PERLMAN

I see.   So you've come to Europe to rekindle your friendship with my son after these long years...but why?

OLIVER

My life is such a mess. I didn't want to get Elio tangled up in it all...or maybe subconsciously I did.  I don't know... When I was last here it was such a joyous, simple time.

OLIVER shrugs innocently.

OLIVER (CONT'D)

Suddenly I found myself boarding a plane to London.

PERLMAN

Nostalgia can be a powerful drug and time makes us sentimental. So, what about your wife and child?

OLIVER

Waiting.   It's all so unfair.  I love them Professor, honestly I do.  But coming back here and seeing Elio again...

They sit quietly contemplating what is now in the open.  PERLMAN slowly cleans his glasses.

PERLMAN

Oliver, it's not my place to tell you how to live your life.  We make decisions, some are good and some are mistakes.  We are not perfect.  We open doors and others close behind us.

But you are a Doctor now too.  Surely I don't need to remind the expert that you can't step into the same river twice.  Past is not prologue.

OLIVER

(nodding in agreement)

If only I'd had the courage back then.  Elio certainly did.

OLIVER stands up and begins pacing around the room.

OLIVER (CONT'D)

Professor, I've really screwed things up.  The truth is that I'm a failure.

PERLMAN

I highly doubt that.  You have people here in this house who love you very, very much...and I suspect there are people back in the states who love you equally well.

OLIVER smiles, eyes brimming with tears.

PERLMAN (CONT'D)

How can a man who is engulfed by so much love be a failure?   (beat)  He can't...You aren't.

 

OLIVER

Thank you.

PERLMAN

Sometimes we don't see what's right before our eyes.  (beat)  Back then, that summer, I suspected something about Elio and you... but Annella, she knew the whole time.

OLIVER looks stunned.

PERLMAN (CONT'D)

Women like her, formidable women.  They can see right through us.  No use trying to hide anything from them. (beat) I'm an old man now, rubbing elbows with death.  And perhaps I've lived in Italy and France too long... but I can tell you this:   Many people share their

heart with more than one love.   Their hearts are divided.  My book is about King David, and as you know, he had seven wives.  So the idea of having more than one affection is ancient,

even by our Jewish standards.

OLIVER

So, what am I to do with my "divided heart" Professor? It seems to be frowned upon these days in America...and I am also married to a formidable woman.

PERLMAN

Just wait and be hopeful. These matters have a way of finding a balance. Years ago you broke my Elio's heart, but he is stronger now.  If he had not met you he never would have become who he is today...he would have been someone else.  Who we were yesterday, who we are today, and who we will be tomorrow are three very different people.  Elio is amazing, so I am thankful.

OLIVER

I've missed him, and all of you, so much.

PERLMAN

Well, here is my idea: I'm going to be stuck in this house for six long weeks... "recovering."

What would you think of helping do the legwork on this book of mine and being my co-author?

OLIVER

I don't know what to say.

PERLMAN

I'll write to your superiors at Columbia and

explain about your collaboration.

Surely that will get you out of some hot water.

OLIVER

But I'm no archaeologist, or art historian.

PERLMAN

So what? You know the culture. You know the literature and the mindset.  The book is going to be titled:   The Art History of King David.

PERLMAN gathers up several folders, handing them all to OLIVER.

PERLMAN (CONT'D)

To be honest there are several sculptures and other artifacts that I would love to have your opinion on.  Of course, it would mean more traveling for you.  I've written the outline, but you can help me organize my notes, get these chapters pulled together.  And we need your skills as a photographer.  I want slides of the relevant pieces.  You have a keen eye, a clean writing style... you would be doing me a favor.

OLIVER is astonished.

OLIVER

I'd be honored, Professor.

PERLMAN

Good. Then it's settled.

MONTAGE

MUSIC: SUFJAN STEVEN'S Death With Dignity.

INTERCUT: OLIVER and PERLMAN working in the study, stacks of books and papers surrounding them. ELIO composing music and playing the piano. MAFALDA cooking. ANNELLA and PERLMAN embracing and kissing. ELIO and MARZIA walking through Crema hand in hand. OLIVER and ELIO naked in bed together. The family laughing and sharing a meal in the dining room. MANFREDI and MAFALDA kissing in the kitchen.

ELIO writing in his diary. PERLMAN smoking a cigar and looking out the window.

OLIVER riding a bike with VIMINI on the handlebars.

INT. BALCONY - PERLMAN VILLA - NEW YEAR'S EVE - DUSK

ANNELLA and TILDA are smoking before the guests arrive. They notice ELIO and MARZIA kissing in the orchard.

TILDA

(in French)

Qui est cette femme?  (who is that girl?)

ANNELLA

Ah, Marzia.

She and Elio have known each other all their lives.

TILDA

She is from the village, Oui?

ANNELLA nods.

TILDA (CONT'D)

Well, he can surely do better than that.  We must help dear Elio set his sights higher.

ANNELLA

She is a sweet girl.   What if he is happy with her?

TILDA

He is your only child, Chérie.  He can be just as happy with a girl who is noble-born.

ANNELLA

He may not even want a girl.

I think he would marry Oliver if he could.

TILDA

Ah, that one.   He casts a spell with his movie-star looks.   Vimini is also smitten.  But he is a foreigner...and working class.

ANNELLA

(scoffing)

He's an American college professor.   An academic.

TILDA

Couillonnade!   (nonsense)  He's a glorified teacher... not to mention he's a man.

ANNELLA

A married man...with a young child.

TILDA

Que Dieu nous aide. (Lord help us all)

ANNELLA

At least he's Jewish.

The sisters both laugh at this.

TILDA

Once Elio has married a young Countess he can keep the American as a hobby.

ANNELLA

(slapping her sister)

You are wicked.

TILDA

We all need hobbies.

 

 EXT. MAIN ENTRANCE - PERLMAN VILLA - NIGHT

Lights have been strung from the trees and around the house giving it a very festive air. One of the posters of Elio from London is near the door. Guests begin to arrive for the concert. Some have driven, but many have walked from town. The scene is magical.

INT. LIVING ROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - NIGHT

The villa has been transformed into a mini-concert hall. Folding chairs have been set up to allow for as many people as the room will hold. A fire blazes. Vases filled with white carnations are everywhere. OLIVER, in a blue cashmere sweater, and Vimini in a white dress sit together, close to the piano.

VIMINI

Looks like it's going to be standing room only.

OLIVER

I think Elio is more nervous about this concert than any he did with the Philharmonic.

VIMINI

Where is our prodigy?

OLIVER

Preparing.   He banished me from upstairs an hour ago.

CHIARA and ROBERTO arrive with MARZIA. SONNY and CHER, in matching purple suits, greet the PERLMANS. MANFREDI and MAFALDA work to herd everyone in.

TILDA is seated on a couch, drinking wine with the PROFESSOR. There are at least two dozen people settling into their seats or standing near the wall. Finally, ANNELLA, dressed in a beautiful red gown, addresses the gathering.

ANNELLA

We are so happy that you could all be here to celebrate the New Year with our family.

We hope you will enjoy the food and the wine... but mostly the entertainment!

People begin to cheer and clap. Some have started to chant, "Elio! Elio!"  ELIO walks down the stairs wearing his black tuxedo and white sneakers.  A carnation is in his lapel. The cheering intensifies.  Many of these people have known him for his entire life.

ELIO

Wow.

ELIO kisses his mother and then she takes her seat next to TILDA.  He leans against the piano.

ELIO (CONT'D)

Thank you.   Every face in this room brings back memories.

He sits at the piano, adjusting and preparing himself.

He cracks his knuckles.

ELIO (CONT'D)

This first piece is a variation of CLAUDE DEBUSSY'S  Clair de Lune.

ELIO glances toward OLIVER.

ELIO (CONT'D)

I wrote this for a friend... and I'm nervous because I've never played it in public before.

Everyone laughs.

The melody starts quietly, slowly rising to fill the room. ELIO plays the haunting variation of the song as a gift sent out to OLIVER. It's a mixture of longing and sadness, but also hints of joy. INTERCUT ELIO'S hands on the keyboard, the rooms and grounds of the villa,

and the faces of family, friends, and OLIVER.

INT. ELIO'S BEDROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - NIGHT

Voices and music can be heard downstairs as the party continues. ELIO is changing out of his tux.  PERLMAN knocks once and enters.

PERLMAN

Elio, Elio, that was so...magical.

ELIO

HA! you are biased. But thanks.

PERLMAN looks at his son with love and admiration.

PERLMAN

You have been given such a gift.   It is beyond my comprehension.  I want you to promise me something.

ELIO

What?

PERLMAN

You must rejoin the orchestra.  Finish the tour.

ELIO

I will when you are well.

PERLMAN

I'm well enough now.  Your mother and her tribe will be here to hover over me.   I'll feel better just knowing you are doing what you were born to do.

ELIO

Papa...

PERLMAN moves to ELIO'S bookcase and chooses a large tome.

PERLMAN

Books, history, sculpture.  Looking back into the past.   This is my path and I have been content to follow it.   But what you do, my son, can inspire people in a different way. It can move them.  Music touches our emotions, it has a rare power and it is how you enter this world.  You must delve deeper.  Follow your music.  Write, create, perform...  you can make the world a better place for all of us.

ELIO smiles and nods.  Father and son embrace.

ELIO

If it's what you want, I'll call Julien tomorrow.

PERLMAN

Now, what about Oliver?

ELIO

I've been asking myself that same question.  I'm glad he's here, but I wonder why.

PERLMAN

We are defined by the company we keep.

ELIO

In my dark moments I wonder if he was really coming back to me, or simply running away.

PERLMAN

Ellie-Belly...He crossed a wide ocean just to see you again.  Give him time.

ELIO

Apart from you, he's the best person I've ever known in my life.

MUSIC: JANET JACKSON'S Love Will Never Do (without you)

 

The party continues. Drinking, laughing, dancing. It is a snapshot of the idyllic life that the PERLMAN'S have shared in this home, in this time, and in this country with these people. OLIVER seems to be memorizing every detail, every smile. They count down to midnight and everyone kisses. PERLMAN and ANNELLA; CHIARA and ROBERTO; MANFREDI and MAFALDA; SONNY and CHER.  OLIVER kneels down and kisses VIMINI on each cheek, but rising and turning, he sees ELIO kiss MARZIA.  He goes to him.  OLIVER and ELIO kiss deeply.

INT. ELIO'S BEDROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - LATE

The rain has come. It beats against the panes.  ELIO and OLIVER are naked in bed, smoking and talking.

 

ELIO

My father wants me to rejoin the LPO tour.  He wants me to take my music more seriously.

OLIVER nods.

OLIVER

He wants me to travel all over Europe  photographing sculptures for the book.

ELIO

That sounds great, I wish I could tag along.

OLIVER

I wish you could too... but you should be performing.

ELIO

(resting his head on Oliver's chest)

Our lives are filled with hellos and goodbyes.

INT. STUDY - PERLMAN VILLA - DAY

ELIO sits among a mountain of his father's books and papers.  He has his address book in hand and is trying to call London.

ELIO  

(into phone)

...Yes, yes...I'm still here. (pause)

Yes, Perlman. Elio Perlman.

I need to speak to the Maestro. (pause)

Yes, I know. Well, are they in Vienna? (pause)

Can you give me a number for him? (pause)

Okay, okay. Then can you please leave

an urgent message that I called? (pause)

Thank you.

PROFESSOR PERLMAN has entered the room and look expectantly at his son.

ELIO merely shrugs. O.S. MAFALDA rings the bell calling everyone to breakfast.

INT. DINING ROOM - PERLMAN VILLA - DAY

MAFALDA is trying to get everyone situated as eggs, juice, toast and party leftovers are spread on the large table.  TILDA, ANNELLA and VIMINI are nearly finished eating when ELIO enters.  The dog scurries around begging for scraps.

ANNELLA

Any luck reaching them, Mio Piccino?

ELIO

None.

I think they are supposed to be playing in

Vienna this week, though.

TILDA

You are their soloist, you'd think they'd be calling

every day to get you back.

ELIO

It does seem odd.

PERLMAN

Maybe you should just show up.

ELIO frowns at the idea as he butters some toast.

OLIVER

That's what I'd do.

ELIO

(grinning)

I know.  But I'm not party- crashing, hat in hand.

If they want me back...they'll call.

OLIVER is having some trouble cracking his egg...VIMINI reaches over to help him.

PERLMAN

So, Oliver, are you almost ready for your big trip?

OLIVER

I think so, Pro.

ELIO wipes his mouth and gets up from the table.

ANNELLA

(to Elio)

Caro, what are your plans today?

ELIO

Marzia and I are going to hike up to Monet's Berm.

OLIVER

Sounds fun. (beat)

More work for us, Professor?

PERLMAN

I'm afraid so.

TILDA

Well, we are having our nails and hair done in town.

ANNELLA looks toward PERLMAN concerned.

ANNELLA

Will you be alright with only Oliver and

Mafalda to look after you?

PERLMAN

(laughs)

I think we can manage for one afternoon, my love.

INT. STUDY - PERLMAN VILLA - DAY

OLIVER sorting through papers. PERLMAN, glasses on, is making revisions to the manuscript.

OLIVER

I like the way you say that David is a bridge

between Jews and Christians.

A King to both faiths.

Michelangelo, a Christian, sculpted his most

famous statue of a Jewish King.

PERLMAN

True.

But Michelangelo wasn't thinking about religion.

To him, David was a symbol of strength and beauty...

and all things Florence.

OLIVER

So, if David is Florence, then Goliath must be...

PERLMAN

Yes, Rome.

The statue represents politics more than religion.

But the sensuous nature of it tells us even more.

Certainly Michelangelo, being who he was,

was keenly aware of the relationship

between David and Jonathan.

OLIVER

What do you mean?

PERLMAN

Though both David and Jonathan both eventually

married women, in David's case several women...

the scripture states that the soul of Jonathan was

knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him

as his own soul.

They made a covenant with each other.

OLIVER

Another divided heart, Professor?

PERLMAN

(smiling)

Exactly. In many ways it reflects Michelangelo's own

true love with the married nobleman Tommaso de' Cavalieri...

a relationship that lasted until his death.

History and art are always teaching us, Oliver,

they are a mirror.

So what is the lesson here...with this most famous of statues?

OLIVER

Maybe it's as simple as: true love is an unstoppable force.

The professor nods his approval.

PERLMAN

The heart wants what the heart wants.

 

PERLMAN gets up from his desk, a hand on OLIVER'S shoulder.

PERLMAN (CONT'D)

I'm a bit tired from last night.

If I take a nap will you wake me in an hour?

OLIVER

Are you feeling okay, Pro?

PERLMAN

Yes, yes. Just tired.

OLIVER

Then rest. I'll sort through the Michelangelo history.

PERLMAN

(leaving the room)

One hour only.

OLIVER

Sweet dreams, Pro.

PERLMAN

Later.

 

 

NEXT

©2020 Marko Realmonte, storyteller

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