In the Picture
I Am Love
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
The joy of cinema is finding those special films that grab you from the very first moment. I Am Love is a movie with considerable technical inspiration, but also sublime visual beauty. All the elements come together so well in this film. The music score by John Adams is over-the-top but quite brilliant; the cinematography by Yorik Le Saux is outstanding, particularly the way the camera moves through the grand family house. While there are many subtleties and contrasts in the film, it is almost operatic in presenting this most Italian story of wealth, power, family, love and tragedy.
Set in Milan, the film follows the fortunes and misfortunes of a family of wealthy textile industrialists. The Recchi family gather for the birthday of their ailing patriarch Edoardo Sr (Gabriele Ferzetti), who surprises them by declaring both his son Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) and his grandson Edoardo Jr (Flavio Parenti) to be his successors. The central character in the story is Tancredi's Russian-born wife Emma (Tilda Swinton), who is the devoted mother to Edoardo Jr, Gianluca (Mattia Zaccaro) and Elisabetta (Alba Rohrwacher). In a wonderful performance by Swinton, Emma is awakened from her sumptuous and mannered lifestyle by an encounter with an associate of young Edoardo's, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a chef who plans to open a restaurant with Edo in the countryside. Her senses and then her passions are aroused, and Emma suddenly abandons herself into a torrid, sensual affair with Antonio. The fabric of the Recchi family is further torn by Tancredi's decision to sell the family business, and also by Elisabetta's revelation to her mother that she is lesbian and has a lover in London, where she pursues her art studies.
This is a grand Italian family melodrama filmed with great visual style and attention to detail. Co-written, with Barbara Alberti, by director Luca Guadagnino, I Am Love masterfully plays with colour, with the settings and sounds, and particularly with food, and how taste stimulates the senses and deeper feelings.
It is difficult to find any fault with this film, and Tilda Swinton and the ensemble of mostly Italian actors are so well defined in their roles; Maria Paiato is especially good as the Recchi maid. There are many highlights to I Am Love starting with the first sight of Milan wrapped in snow and mist. All the scenes inside the Recchi house are startling in their beauty, and the highly charged outdoor love scene is a fascinating mix of flowers, insects and orchestra.
This is a great cinema treat. Not to be missed.
I Am Love is the first feature in Norpa's Spring Popcorn Series sponsored by The Northern Rivers Echo. It will be screened at Star Court Theatre on Sunday, November 7, at 7pm.