I AM LOVE (Luca Guadagnino)


My initial reaction was: what the heck is Tilda Swinton doing in an Italian movie? Then again, Tilda Swinton can pass for any nationality. She is British, but she can very well be American (hello Academy-award performance in MICHAEL CLAYTON!), and in this instance Russian-Italian. In fact, this is one of the most daring roles she's ever had, as a housewife in a powerful bourgeoisie family slowly giving in to carnal desires.

But lust is only the surface that explains why Swinton's character Emma did what she did. You'd have to consider the social expectations on her as a mother and as a wife, and yes, her right to self-happiness.

The shots are beautifully photographed, and the score by John Adams is thrilling to the ears. Tilda Swinton's numerous costumes in this movie alone have a life of their own.

Unfolding in classic melodrama fashion sans the excessive shouting, ridiculous plot twists, and characters appearing like mushrooms, I AM LOVE shows us a family ruled by a strict set of family rules, and members of it trying to break free. In a larger picture, it also presents a character study of a woman who may be discovering self-fulfillment after a very long time. But that choice does not go without serious consequences. 

You have to admire the elegance in production design and cinematography which both contradicts and complements the minimalist and metaphorical storytelling. The sex scene in the garden juxtaposed with bees and other insects feasting on flowers is right on, though it has been done before I bet.

The film begins and ends with a dinner. Ah, that dreaded dinner! Almost all great films have a scene involving formal dinner. Here, the dinner may symbolize the strict upbringing of the Recchi family, and this causes their eventual downfall. 

There is seduction whenever possible in I AM LOVE; even the manner that Emma (Swinton) slices her shrimp during lunch is a sublime attempt to heighten sexual tension- it's like foreplay.

Good thing they chose a very capable actress in the form of Tilda Swinton. The woman is always captivating to observe onscreen, even when she's not saying anything. 

RATING: 5/5

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