Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Am Love: Classy Tearjerker


Director Luca Guadagnino has created an elegant, moving film. I Am Love (Io sono l'amore) is an Italian language movie with an English-speaking star. Ever the professional, Tilda Swinton learnt Italian and Russian for the part of Emma Recchi.

Somewhat surprisingly her character does not speak the modern lingua franca English. Tilda is an excellent clotheshorse for Italian fashion which she does with captivating style.

The direction and photography caress our senses. The slow pace is perfectly suited to this tender love affair. It is a story of ideas and emotions. However, the climax comes with sudden speed. The frenetic conclusion is stunning.

The scenes where lover and and housekeeper undress Madam mirror Emma's life. She has been the trophy wife brought back from Russia where her husband Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) "collected things". We follow the journey from dutiful wife and mother of adult children to her personal liberation.

The context is present day upper-class Milan. The wealthy Recchi family live a seemingly ideal existence in their 1930s rationalist-fascist mansion. Grandfather had a "past" with Mussolini's regime. The father seems oblivious to his children's desires and his wife's restlessness.

Eldest son Edo is horrified by the direction their business is taking when they are approached to go global. The hyper-villain Mr. Kubelkian (Waris Ahluwalia) is the consumate neo-con seducer, speaking of capital as democracy and war's potential to bring development to the third world. The attacks on the Upper Class and globalisation are none too subtle.

Edo is more interested in joining his friend Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) in his restaurant business. Emma is also drawn to Antonio, making for an unusual triangle.

It's an excellent cast. Maria Paiato is particularly strong as the housekeeper Ida. Alba Rohrwacher also shines as Betta.

I Am Love is a visual feast and a classy tearjerker.

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