I Am Love is an exploration of the word from the female point of view. Women are expected to run the household, but be the supporting character to their husbands. They have unlimited love for their children, and must give give give to everyone else: their friends, their extended family, their friends. I Am Love is an exploration of what happens when this unfaltering matriarch falls in love on her own, and not with her husband.
Emma, played by the ethereal Tilda Swinton, is a Russian immigrant who traveled to Italy in her youth and was courted by Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono), who gave her the name Emma. She can’t even remember what her given name is. The Recchis are very wealthy, thanks to a successful family textile business, and they live in an expansive villa and enjoy an upper class lifestyle. Emma has three children with Tancredi, and she is relentlessly supportive of them. Specifically of her daughter Betta’s coming out as a lesbian, which she hides from her husband.
Tancredi, along with their son Edoardo, has just inherited his family’s business. Edoardo has other plans for his future though; he wants to open a restaurant with his friend Antonio. Antonio visits the Recchi home at one of their many lavish dinner parties, and for Emma, it’s love at first sight. Emma leaves on a solo getaway and meets up with Antonio, and the two begin their passionate love affair.
What’s truly heartbreaking is what happens afterward, but to write about it in detail would spoil the best parts of the film. It’s frustrating though that the events leading up to the affair are tiresome and downright slow, you might be tempted to turn off the film before the good stuff really happens.
Tilda Swinton plays Emma softly, like the submissive wife that she’s had to be for Tancredi. When she realizes her love for Antonio, she is more passionate with him, but still reserved. Perhaps it’s because of years of sadness in her marriage, but her lack of passion after the affair is frustrating. The events that happen after the affair are heart-wrenching and she still doesn’t convey as much emotion as she possibly could, or should.
I Am Love is punctuated by its melodramatic score which, while loud and sometimes obnoxious, is the perfect complement to the melodramatic, abrupt ending. I think I watched the ending three times, one right after the other, to fully grasp what had just happened. I Am Love is a beautifully shot, passion project of a film by director Luca Guadagnino. The director developed the film with Tilda Swinton over the span of eleven years. As overly dramatic as it may be, it’s a heartbreaking, often tedious exploration of the very real love of a woman, for her family, for her security, for the man she never thought she’d fall in love with.
I Am Love is currently on Netflix Watch Instant, but I would encourage you to find either a Blu-ray copy or the HD copy. This film is beautiful, as are many films set in Italy. The landscape just begs to be viewed in the highest possibly quality. As mentioned before, the score is booming and the sound can be overwhelming at times.
Moments on the Set of I Am Love – Long shots of filming, with bits and pieces of insight from Tilda Swinton and Luca Guadagnino. (14:33)
Interviews with the Cast & Crew – This extensive set of interviews is over an hour long and features lengthy talks by Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton, along with every other member of the cast. It’s a bit long and tedious, just like the movie. But also repetitive. If interested, watch the ones by Guadagnino and Swinton. (1:10:36 total run time)
Trailers – Ondine, The Extra Man, The Oxford Murders
I Am Love is an interesting piece of art house cinema that really spoke to me, but after I finished watching it. I was bored multiple times by the exaggeration of the upper class Italian lifestyle and the overall slow pacing. The ending intrigued me, and it was then that I could reflect on the movie as a whole. It’s a beautiful film, not without its flaws. Just like Emma, and just like every woman.
Magnolia presents I Am Love;. Directed by: Luca Guadagnino. Starring: Tilda Swinton Written by: Luca Guadagnino. Running time: 114 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray and DVD: October 12, 2010.
Tags: Tilda Swinton