12 August, 2010

Io sono l’amore (I Am Love) (2009)

What lies beneath

Based on an original story by director Luca Guadagnino (Melissa P. (2005)) and co-produced by star Tilda Swinton, Io sono l’amore (I Am Love) (2009) is far more than just another family drama, writes Otilia Ilie.

The movie tells the story of a wealthy, industrial family in Milan, the Reccchis – the story is centred around the brave-yet-delicate Emma (Swinton), the Russian wife of Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) who leads a noble, elegant and empty life, surrounded by servants in an austere house, and spends her time doing little more than organizing family dinners.

Emma has lost her sparkle, is taken for granted by the whole family, and is losing sight of true real self: ‘When I moved to Milan, I stopped being Russian…I had to learn to be Italian.’

But change is coming, on all levels, as the owner of the family’s textile business, Edoardo Sr. (Gabriele Ferzetti) decides to leaves everything to his son, Tancredi and his oldest grandson, the sensitive Edo (Flavio Parenti).

Emma finds out that her daughter Elisabetta (Alba Rohrwacher) ‘likes’ girls, the business is faced with globalization, and her son’s new friend, the shy and talented chef Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) seems to stir something in her. The new passion seems set to finally reveal her real identity, but at what cost?

Excellent performances and expressively emotional cinematography from Yorick Le Saux portray family secrets, passion and the transformational power of love – the power to admit who you really are and to break free from the oppression of an Italian bourgeoisie opulent life.

While the set-up may appear to be achingly familiar (I mean, how many times have we had ‘older woman finds redemption with younger man’?), the passion, both implicit and explicit at the story’s core, nevertheless imbues the film with a fresh, invigorating perspective.

The music by John Adams is also in perfect agreement with Emma’s reawakened awareness and, while the narrative may seem at times to be simplistic, with only Swinton’s expressions telling the story, you just can’t help but admire the art behind the film.

120 mins. In Italian, Russian and English.

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