I Am Love (DVD)

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1940s "woman's picture" plus food porn and Tilda Swinton's breasts

Dec 18, 2011 (Updated Dec 18, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Suspense:

Pros:cast, locations, food, beards, bonus interviews

Cons:very old-fashioned melodrama plot

The Bottom Line: A lot of commitment of a lot of talent produced a very average romance/tragedy (alas).


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

In a bonus feature interview on the DVD, Tilda Swinton said she had been developing "I Am Love" (Io sono l'amore, 2009) with director Luca Guadagnino for eleven years. He says seven. After listening to them and other actors speaking with considerable intelligence about the characters in the movie, I wish that I liked it more than I did.

Guadagnino says that the kernel was imagining a lonely woman in a beautiful house. They definitely got a grand palazzo in Milan's Villa Necchi Campiglio. It was not immediately clear to me that Tilda Swinton's character, a Russian whom a Milanese industrial magnate and art collector, Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) imported and rechristened Emma is lonely. She presides over the palazzo with grace and is loved by and confided in by her children, including that artist daughter Betta (Alba Rohrwacher) who has fallen in love with another woman and Edoardo Jr. (Flavio Parenti) who is a savvy businessman who loves his mother's exoticisness.

Though engaged to marry the daughter of one of his father's associates, Edoardo Jr. seems to me to have an at least unconscious homoerotic attraction to a young master chef, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini). Edoardo Jr. is eager to underwrite opening a restaurant in the hills above Sanremo with Antonio, confident that people will drive an hour for the exquisite food and commanding vistas.

While the family business (a textile factory) is being bought by an turbaned Indian American of exquisite politeness, Shai Kubelkian (Waris Ahluwali), Antonio is seducing Emma's palate... and through the stomach to the loins as it were. This leads to langorous nude embraces featuring her breasts and his derrière. Perhaps this is the soft eroticism that appeals to female viewers? The mother of grown children finding passion like this seems very "women's picture" of long ago (when representations of love-making was forbidden).

Sin is punished in a very 1940s Hollywood Production Code way and behaves in ways I do not find credible.

The movie includes a bit of the Mahler Fourth Symphony, another cinematic recycling of "La mamma morta,"  and a lot of bits of John Adams (including Harmonium, Harmoniliehre, Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, Century Rolls, Fearful Symmetries, Lollapalooza) cueing the audience what to think/feel. The heavier Adams pieces used in the last half hour work better for me than the somewhat abrasive and overly busy ones used earlier.

The cast (including Marisa Berenson as the mother of Tancredri and widow of Edoardo Sr. (Edoardo Recch (Gabriele Ferzetti)) and locations and food look very good, but in two hours the movie delivers such old-fashioned adultery and guilt melodrama as to induce eye-rolling. Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux makes the most of the food and exteriors in Milan (including its Late Gothic Cathedral), London, Sanremo, and the Liguiran hills (and the haute couture Milanese).

In addition to many interviews (in Italian, except for Swinton's), the DVD includes a commentary track by Swinton and Guadagnino (in English), a making-of featurette, and a theatrical trailer. No stinting in bonus features, for sure!

©2011, Stephen O. Murray

Thanks to Mona for adding this to the database.


Recommend this product? No


Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age


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