Stars: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Pippo Delbono, Alba Rohwacher
Director: Luca Guadagnino
A woman of Russian lineage marries into a wealthy Italian family. Emma (Tilda Swinton) now has grown children, and to outward appearances it seems like a good fit--a life where everything is ordered and meticulously laid out like the seating arrangements and place settings for the birthday gathering to honor the Recchi family patriarch--where we are introduced to the large ensemble cast of I Am Love. But something is missing. We can see it in Emma's eyes, her facial expressions, her body lauguage.
I Am Love is a fill-in-the-blanks, draw your own conclusions kind of movie, where certain questions remain unanswered from the beginning. Emma's young adult son, Edoardo, (Flavio Parenti) loses a race. We are not privy to whether it's a foot race, a bicycle race, or a soap box derby. We only know that he was bested by a young chef named Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) . In a family of so much privilege, the expectation of excellence is the norm. But Edoardo isn't sweating it. There is great camaraderie between the two young men--and maybe something more--which is hinted at but never spelled out. Further speculation is fueled by Edoardo's reaction upon the discovery that his mother has entered into a passionate affair with the young chef. (No surprise that THAT'S what was missing in Emma's life!)
A subplot involves Emma's daughter, Elisabetta, (Alba Rohwacher) who has recently come out of the closet, and is the only one who seems to understand her mother's heart-rending decision in the climactic scene.
I Am Love is like one of those old steam locomotives that chugs along slowly at first, gradually picking up steam and momentum...then suddenly out of control...until the inevitable derailment involving casualties, precipitated by the karma these characters have drawn to themselves. A film that seems to be telling us to follow our instincts, and to go for love--DAMMIT--no matter how inappropriate, destructive, or doomed it may appear to be.
Pay the karma off in installments.
Tilda Swinton shines in this cinematically gorgeous movie--except for women getting their beautiful long hair whacked short--becoming rather plain looking as a result--the usual consequence of a type of capriciousness that often plagues the fair sex.
Grade: A -