I Am Love (15)
Tilda Swinton plays Emma Ricchi, a Russian who has married Tancredi Recchi, a scion of a rich, industrialist Italian dynasty in Milan and heir apparent.
The film opens as the middle-aged Emma with three grown-up children is arranging a special birthday party for her father-in-law, the patriarch of the family and the owner/controller of the the family business and source of their wealth. He intends to announce his retirement and confirm his successors at the party. Here there are echoes of the Corleone family in The Godfather and the Salinas in Visconti’s The Leopard – a connection to the latter is reinforced by the use of the name Tancredi for Emma’s husband.
The cold, snowy cityscape echoes the coldness and sterility in her marriage. Emma, icily elegant and in control outwardly, finds her composure cracks when she meets a young man – one of her son’s friends and prospective partner in a country restaurant – and gets drawn into an affair. She is ready to sacrifice everything – wealth and family – to passion. When her family finds out the results are tragic and devastating.
Luca Guadagnino is a young director, born in Sicily, most of whose previous films have been documentaries – he is currently filming one on Bertolucci – and the influence here of Italian directors such as Antonioni is visible. But he also brings a freshness and originality to the cinematography and uses music from John Adams’ work (not specially written for this film) with vivid effect. There is a great attention to getting every detail right and the film has been described by critics variously as ‘ravishingly beautiful’, ‘richly textured’ and ‘visually stunning’.
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellin, Maria Berenson
Luca Guadagnino | Italy | 2009 | 114 minutes | 15
Weighted vote 79.4%