Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Written by Luca Guadagnino & Barbara Alberti

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. June 20, 2010 7:55PM

"I Am Love", a story of passion and the danger that can come following it blindly, starts on a rare snowy day in Milan with the Recchi family getting together to celebrate the birthday of Edoardo Tangredi, Sr. (Gabriele Ferzetti), the wealthy family's patriarch. The ailing yet still quite formidable man announces he is retiring and will leave behind his successful textile plant company not only to his son, Tangredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono) but to his grandson, Edoardo Jr. (Flavio Parenti).

Tilda Swinton plays Emma, a Russian who had left behind her mysterious past life for a new start in Italy. She married Tangredi and they have three children, Edoardo, Jr, Gianluca (Mattia Zaccaro) and Elizabetta (Alba Rohrwacher). Later that evening, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a good friend of Eduardo Jr., has brought over a beautiful cake he created for the celebration. Very impressed with his skill as a baker and strangely intrigued by this young man, Emma invites him to stay for the party but he politely declines the offer.

Following the suggestion of her son, Emma and his grandmother (Marisa Berenson) take his fiance, Ida (Maria Paiato) to have lunch at the fine restaurant where Antonio is the chef. Antonio's food stirs something in Emma, a deep passion that she has suppressed for a long time. After lunch, she has a strong desire to get closer to Antonio and seeks him out to thank him for the delicious meal. She discovers his plan to open his own restaurant with the help of Eduardo in San Remo where he lives.

Elizabetta, who had been dating a boy, has come out to her mother as a lesbian. She is going to college to become an artist in Nice and invites her mother to come to meet her new love interest. After saying that she is going to visit her daughter, Emma actually goes off to San Remo. Emma conveniently runs into Antonio in town and invites her to see his home. It doesn't take long before the two are swept up in torrid love affair.

During a business trip in London, Edoardo Jr. struggles with his role in the company and the future of the business. He also grows suspicious as he notices something unusual happening with his friend, Antonio as he creates a distance between them. Emma is soon torn between remaining in her staid, privileged life with her intimidating family or follow the opportunity of a fresh start with a younger man of simple means.

Ms Swinton gives another amazing performance and so mesmerizing to watch. She is a handsome woman and I just love that androgynous quality of her face that just make her even more fascinating. This is a conventional story told very unconventionally. "I Am Love" is fragmented, so it doesn't tell or show you directly what is happening all of the time, so you have to be paying close attention to understand what is going on. Although I did find "I Am Love" interesting, I can't say I actually liked it. During most of the film, it just made me think I was watching a very expensive student film with top notch actors involved. Mr. Guadagnino felt the need to throw in way too many unnecessary cinematic tricks like blurry images, many quick cuts, extreme close-ups and slow motion shots that didn't add anything and just made the film feel directionless and unpolished. His decision to loudly blast the musical score at the audience during apparently important scenes was really obnoxious. A woman sitting next to me during the film actually covered her ears.

The director seemed to be struggling with wanting to create a Hollywood-styled melodrama and making an esoteric art film but has only succeeded in making neither particularly well. There are certainly some beautifully crafted moments to be found in this film but not nearly enough to recommend anyone sitting through "I Am Love".