This Italian import by Luca Guadagnino evolves into a finely shaded tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan.
An impassioned, if sometimes incoherent I am Love (in Italian and Russian with English subtitles) features Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton (Burn After Reading) as well as Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini and Alba Rohrwacher.
Here's a sumptuous slice of cinema that will likely resonate with those who delight in Italian cultural society, patriarchal, but, in this case, more distaff empowerment. Basically, what is given the deluxe treatment by Guadagnino's distinguished production staff, the helmer and scribe allows Swinton again to show her exquisite range as a dutiful, spoiled Russian-born wife and mother in a prominent Milanese family, Emma, who falls for a chef. With much sweep, one witnesses the effect of passion and unconditional love on the haute bourgeoisie.
Parenti is Edo, the grandson that the family head Edoardo Recchi (Gabriele Ferzetti) decides should run his company, instead of his son Tandredi (Pippo Delbono). That leaves Emma, an emigre and Tandredi's missus to see something in Edo's chef chum Antonio (Gabbriellini) who plans to be a restauranteur with Edo. A foreign buyer is in the offing for the Recchis
What the filmmakers convey with much clarity is the inherent struggle in the process of change of the times with the latest advances infringing on generational mores. Even when it comes to cherished family recipes as food itself is a cinematic spice in addition to the alluring ways color and light are configured as well as designs in many individual scenes.
Emma has grown children about with their own lives as played by Mattia Zaccaro and Rohrwacher, as the independent-minded Betta. Swinton lets the onlooker into Emma's personal, unexpected new spurt as she doesn't appear to be as needed as before. The implications of relationships and intimacy have trenchant individual and familial overtones as the gifted actress delivers another telling portrait. One scene with Maria Paiato as a servant helps one to realize how Emma is key to something rather audacious and perceptive if a bit absurd at times.
Yet, it's still hard not to be drawn into the lavishness of I am Love especially from an opening aerial shot of a wintry Milan as music from John Adams add classical bombast to something this impressionistically textured. Plenty of atmosphere comes from the lush presentation of locations like Milan as well as London and San Remo as this carnally-loaded not-that-convoluted drama turns out to have a timelessness to it with the chameleon in Swinton (who doesn't look her actual age) often making it a potent potable.
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