The hours move slowly in "Call Me By Your Name."
It's summertime in Northern Italy in 1983 on a secluded 17th-century villa, where nothing is ever pressing. There is time to read the paper in the morning while delicately picking at a soft-boiled egg. There is time to dally around with the locals at the lake for endless stretches. Shirts are optional; shoes are too. Bathing suits are a wardrobe staple, and naps are a way of life. Even the flies are serene.
This is life for a precocious 17-year-old, Elio (Timothée Chalamet), his Greco-Roman professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg) and translator mother (Amira Casar) in Luca Guadagnino's unabashedly beautiful and subtly powerful adaptation of Andre Aciman's novel of first love and burgeoning sexuality.
Elio's father has enlisted, as he always does, a research assistant for the summer. This year's model is Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American graduate student who is comically sculpted and handsome, preternaturally confident and disarmingly intelligent.
Oliver doesn't look 24, however. He looks like a grown man, which makes Elio, whose skinny, stretched frame can barely fill out his denim shorts and polo shirts, look even younger.
The exaggerated physical incongruities only highlight the rift in emotional maturity between Elio and Oliver, whose flirtation intensifies from imperceptible to full flung over the course of Oliver's time with the Perlman family. Oliver teases, Elio resists, and the desire eventually manifests itself into a beautiful and tastefully sensual physical relationship.
Chalamet, with his sleepy eyes and gawky-confident gait, gets the role of a lifetime in Elio. His performance is one that is so lived-in and naturalistic that its impact almost catches you off guard. Hammer is good too as an effortlessly charming specimen who knows how to use his charismatic presence to make everyone fall in love with him.
"Call Me By Your Name" can be a bit of a sleeper at times. Conversations about the curves of Greek statues or the origins of the word "apricot" can feel indulgent and obvious in James Ivory's script. There is also that ever-present fog of the enormous wealth of everyone involved — the "good" kind of wealth, a Platonic ideal of Persol sunglasses, rumpled Ralph Lauren T-shirts, and the daily pursuit of leisure, sport and knowledge. It can be a little much, but, like all of Guadagnino's films ("A Bigger Splash," ''I Am Love"), it is pretty to look at.
And it pays off in a stunning third act when the endless summer quickens to light speed and is gone in a flash.
"We wasted so many days," Elio says to Oliver, finally recognizing that life will not always be languid afternoons by the lake. And, just like that, you start to feel wistful along with the characters — mourning the moment as it's happening.
The film builds up to two scenes that contextualize and poeticize everything that came before it. First, an all-timer monologue from father to son that serves as a thesis for the film, and, really, life.
Then, the final shot, which will stop you cold and gnaw at your heart for days (and probably longer), until you pick yourself up and take yourself back to the movies to spend the summer again with Elio and Oliver. The characters might not be able to go back and relive those idle days, but we can.
'Call Me by Your Name'
STARRING: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg
DIRECTOR: Luca Guadagnino
NOW SHOWING: At AMC Baton Rouge 16; and at 1 p.m. Sunday at Manship Theatre and Cinemark Perkins Rowe and XD; and at 7 p.m. Monday at Manship Theatre.
RUNNING TIME: 2 hrs., 12 mins.
MPAA RATING: R (Restricted) Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
WHY IS THIS MOVIE RATED R? For sexual content, nudity and some language.
Excellent (****), Good (***), Fair (**), Poor (*)