Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|I Am Love |
Actors: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
I AM LOVE tells the story of the wealthy Recchi family, whose lives are undergoing sweeping changes. Eduardo Sr., the family patriarch, has decided to name a successor to the reins of his massive industrial company, and in... more »
Member Movie Reviews
Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY
Reviewed on 10/26/2010...
Surfeit of 'passion' cannot save predictable tale of infidelity
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'I am Love' is the saga of the Recchis, a very well-off Italian family from Milan who own a textile factory. It takes about a half hour until we enter the second act of the story. Up until then, we're introduced to the family in a very over long expository scene involving a birthday party for the family patriarch, the grandfather, Edoardo Sr. Things finally pick up when the grandfather announces that he's decided to retire and cedes the ownership of the company to both his son, Tancredi, and his grandson, Edoardo Jr. Note that the grandfather disappears for the rest of the film and one wonders why we hear nothing of him later on, especially because Tancredi eventually decides to sell the textile factory, a business, which is made clear from the outset, is very dear to the old man.
The funny thing about 'I am Love' is that all of the characters are underdeveloped—some more so than others. I'll dispense with the characters which we learn almost next to nothing about, first. There's Giancarla, Tancredi's brother, who has about three lines for the entire movie. Then there's Edoardo Jr's girlfriend, Eva, who he gets married to, but I can't seem to remember the nature of their conversations. There's also Elisabetta, Tancredi's daughter, who dispenses with her handsome boyfriend and ends up in a committed lesbian relationship while attending art school in London. Finally there's veritable straw man Tancredi himself, who's depicted as a stick in the mud, and gets his comeuppance when his Russian born wife, Emma, leaves him at the end of the story.
The main plot revolves around Trancredi's wife, Emma, who falls for son Edoardo Jr's new found friend, chef Antonio. The 'chef' is the quintessential Italian lover, passionate about the two things most dear to a passionate Italian male's heart: food and sex! Emma conveniently runs into Antonio while visiting Sanremo and (shock of all shocks!), they end up making passionate love outside Antonio's house in the hills high above the picturesque town. The love-making is shot tastefully especially with juxtaposed scenes of plants undergoing pollination (also thrown in, is the busy, modernistic, John Adams score!).
Meanwhile we find out a few things about Edoardo Jr.'s situation. He's really a good guy especially when we find out how upset he is about workers being fired down at the textile factory—after all the grandfather wouldn't have done that to his workers! But the foreman points out (and this is about the most ambiguity offered up during the entire narrative), the grandfather had no qualms about conscripting Jewish slave laborers during the war. It's an interesting tidbit, but never explored. Edoardo Jr. puts up the good fight after his father decides to sell the factory to an Indian-American businessman in London. Ultimately, the company is sold and Edoardo Jr. returns home deflated.
The ending of 'I am love' not only feels tacked on—but wholly manipulative. After finding a series of clues, Edoardo Jr. deduces that his mother and Antonio have been having the affair. They argue outside a party and Edoardo somehow stumbles and hits his head on the concrete beside a pool. The doctors are unable to save him and he dies of a brain hemorrhage. After the funeral, Tancredi finds Emma alone inside the church, and consoles her by covering her with his jacket after a rainstorm. Emma reveals that she's been in love with Antonio all along and in a laughable moment, Tancredi grabs his coat back and tells her that he has disowned her. As previously mentioned, Emma gains her comeuppance by walking out on Tancredi. There's the added feel good bonus in a nod to woman's rights—just before Emma takes off, daughter Elisabetta gives her approving nod to her mother, acknowledging that she's in complete agreement with her plan to dump her father and run back to the savory chef.
For cynics such as myself, 'I am love' is all style over substance. There's nothing distinctive about Emma and Antonio's affair and I found Edoardo Jr.'s bizarre death designed to extract as many unearned tears possible from a susceptible audience. 'I am love' has some nifty cinematography and the actors all give sincere performances. Ultimately, however, this is a film which is all about the 'passion' and nothing about fully realized characters. After wimpy Tancredi gets thrown under the bus and 'passionate' lovers Emma and Antonio get a free pass as they awkwardly embrace down inside the cave at the film's end, I could only react with a two word Yiddish expletive: 'Oy vey'.
"I am the god... that comes down from the heavens, and makes
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I AM LOVE (Io sono l'amore) is one of the powerfully moving, visually intoxicating, philosophically profound movies to come out in many years. The only other film that has moved this viewer so deeply is LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD - both are complete poetically successful cinematic achievements. Unfortunately few people may understand the title of the film (quoted in the heading of this review: in critical scene in the film the husband and wife are viewing a movie on television, and that movie is PHILADELPHIA, the scene where Tom Hanks is translating the Maddalena's aria from 'Andrea Chenier' and while the voice of Maria Callas is heard singing, the voice-over by Hanks expressing 'I am love' is strangely absent, as though that would be too obvious. But then there are many strange and beautiful moments throughout this quiet film that aim directly for the soul - and hit the target for those who will participate in the story and the vision.
The Recchi family in Milan, Italy is a powerful, long successful and wealthy group of 'machine made, sterile people' - for the most part. About twenty years ago Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono), on an art buying trip, met a Russian girl and 'added' her to his collection, changing her name and position in life to Emma (Tilda Swinton). Emma became the genteel and sterile hostess of the Villa, producing two children - Elisabetta (Alba Rohrwacher), an artist, and Edoardo, Jr (Flavio Parenti), a practical lad ready to enter the plastic life of this father. The paterfamilias, Edoardo Sr. (Gabriele Ferzetti) has a birthday party and announces his retirement, leaving the company business in the joint hands of Tancredi and Edorado, Jr. Edoardo Sr. soon dies and the company is a focus for outsiders to purchase. Meanwhile, Edoardo, Jr has lost a sports event with a young common lad, the simple chef Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) and Antonio visits the Villa with a cake for Edoardo, jr - a gesture from his hands of simple kindness. Emma meets Antonio and buried emotions of passion begin to emerge, controlled of course. Time passes and Elisabetta (now Betta) meets a woman, falls in love, and thus rejects the advances of the 'proper, designated' boyfriend, confessing to her very understanding mother that she is lesbian and wants to pursue her own goals outside the family. Emma, always supported by her devoted maid Ida (Maria Paiato), begins to respond to the raw but deeply suppressed emotions she so desires. She begins an affair with Antonio (now Edoardo's best friend and one with whom he wants to open a restaurant outside of Milan) and when Eduardo discovers the affair he feels betrayed by the mother he so deeply loves and during a confrontation with Emma he accidently falls and dies. The Recchi family's manufactured Milanese cocoon is broken and Emma, though devastated by the loss of her beloved son, departs the family for Antonio's grotto.
The film was planned for almost eleven years as a project by Tilda Swinton and writer/director Luca Guadagino (we learn from the DVD featurettes). Not only was the story of the disease of capitalism and the disregard for the people who live by the work of their hands an important aspect of the film, but also such aspects as the musical score for this dream project was a joint dream: both love the music of John Adams and when they shared their vision with Adams, he immediately jumped in and wrote both original music for the opening but also excerpted moments from his 'Piano Rolls', dances from 'Nixon in China', 'Harmonielehre' and the breathtaking 'Harmonium' whose choral parts provide a stunning ending. He also elected to have the last movement, 'Das himmlische Leben', from Mahler's 4th Symphony serve as the background music for the large party sequence - subtle additions. The camera is used in extraordinary ways, allowing some of the action to be intentionally out of focus, bathing the sexual encounter between Emma and Antonio in voluptuous and sensitively private lighting. While there is not a weak actor in the cast, the role of the Russian émigré Emma (spoken completely in Italian) who manages to break out of the manufactured confines of the wealthy family she married into to become a women capable of returning to the reality of her roots - as portrayed by Tilda Swinton - will assuredly go down in cinematic history as one of the most impressive performances ever.
The film is long, does not follow a rigid sequential line, begs for our participation in the awakening of senses, is in Italian with English subtitles, and is very subtle. It will not appeal to everyone. But to those who respect the brilliance of the creators this will be a film that will remain in the mind forever. Grady Harp, October 10"