Saturday, January 01, 2011

"I am Love" (Language - Italian) (2010) - Movie Review

Luca Guadagnino’s “I am Love” treats the film, its characters and the subtleties in it with nothing but pure and unadulterated tenderness. It takes up a family, a really rich upper class family in Milan, Italy and slowly unravels the mystic identity burial of a foreign soul. This is Emma played with a daring artistic passion by Tilda Swinton who constantly surprises me with her wide portrayal of complex women.

Being married and leaving everything right from the tiniest possession to the valuable relations to her mother and father and enter a strange place with the only known face being her husband is a terrifying thing for a woman in traditional Indian setup. Similar experience has numbed Emma who is originally from Russia. We do not infer it in the initial family dinner celebrating he father-in-law’s birthday. Guadagnino does it with precision. The house keepers work with hurried fear mingled with respect and love to the family. No one ill treats them but you do not want to find out the hard way. The Rechi’s family assimilate and the story is theirs but the social status becomes an entity in the film.

Grandpa Edoardo Sr. (Gabriele Ferzetti) announces his retirement and predictably assigns his son Tancredi Rechi (Pippi Delbono), the husband of Emma as his successor for the textile company. But he adds a twist by making his grandson Edoardo (Flavio Parenti) another successor as well. Edoardo or Edo is the golden boy in the family as we hear everyone speak of him coming second in a race. He comes smiling and acknowledges that and yet wins everyone’s heart. In this Emma sits and she is very much accepted and belongs in the family. Yet there is something unfitting about the presence of her in the family. We learn.

The man who said to have beaten Edo in the race is Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) a chef by profession. He comes by sincerely and gifts Edo a cake. After few months they become thickest of friends given the nature of their liking to similar passion and Antonio is the kind of person Edo would admire. He is gentle, humble and cooks one darn delicious meal. As their friendship thickens Emma goes through two notable instances which rekindles her buried senses and directs towards Antonio.

Emma finds out that her daughter Betta (Alba Rohrwacher) is a lesbian and then a casual line from one of her sons saying whether she misses her home, Russia. This line of thought wakes her up as though she has learned to subconsciously forget it. She does impulsively acts but begins to think. This thinking process mixes up in our minds without any notice. We know the direction of the story but the treatment of it is organic. She is a great cook as well and tasting Antonio’s food gives her an orgasmic experience. There is nothing more further one needs to convince Emma in pursuing this affair.

Emma en routes San Remo where Antonio plans to open a restaurant business with Edo and follows him to stumble upon him. The eventual consummation of them defines Guadagnino’s style. The sudden upheaval of passion between them is not their first act rather it is shown as a blurry image wherein we are not sure whether it happened. Dreamy with erotic poeticism, Emma and Antonio begin meeting and make his place their love nest.

When this is happening, Edo is facing with his values being challenged and wondering whether his grandpa’s facade of caring for people is unmasking or his dad’s attitude is masking the original intentions of his grandpa. He is confused and betrayed by this and we all know where this is going. The story of an affair is such a cliche but here it blossoms into a being in the film. We confide and empathize the feeling of Emma but when it disrupts the family, we begin to dislike her. For a good reason the director keeps the emotional bottling of Emma a guessing game. When she confides with Antonio, we realize her frustration but when Betta gives a sign in the end, it all becomes clear.

“I am Love” is an exercise of treating a simple story with great care and precision. Tilda Swinton not alone surprised me with speaking Italian but how truly and methodically she embodies this strange character to represent, Emma. On the simple outlook of the family and in her ease with moving around them, Emma is very much an Italian but when she begins to doubt and comes out of it, she no longer is an Italian or even a Russian. She simply comes to term the changes she got herself thrust upon for so many years. “I am Love” is a piece of impressive direction but it is more of great acting by Tilda Swinton.

PS: I would recommend you to watch “Michael Clayton” for which she won the Academy Award and “Julia” wherein she portrays a thoroughly disgusting and dislikable character.

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