I Am Love (2009) Poster


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Bold and Shameless In The Best Possible Way
I was amused and entertained. Taken, very taken by how seriously it takes itself but I don't mean that in an patronizing way. For those people the subject treated is of paramount importance. The past and the future mingling in a world where profit commands. The young son, a stunning, Flavio Parenti, is the one attached to the old traditions. A rich capitalist with a socialist sensibility. Tilda Swinton runs the gamut of emotions and she does it beautifully. Details are terribly important here and, I must confess, I thought of Visconti, specially because Violante Visconte di Modrone is part of the cast. Who is Mr Guadagnino, the director? Where does he come from? He seems incredibly sure of himself. Costumes, interiors, landscapes are a visual feast. The score is also a very bold touch. Marisa Berenson (Barry Lyndon) and Gabriele Ferzzetti (L'Avventura) are added pleasures to this unexpected, if sometimes irritating, treat.
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The bold and the beautiful
susannah-straughan-127 April 2010
The poster for Luca Guadagnino's film shows a regal Tilda Swinton in an eye-catching red dress surrounded by her sober-looking family. In another version, the frock has undergone a cheeky digital makeover to a shocking pink that matches the movie's bold, declaratory title. The symbolism might seem a little obvious, but this is a story in which one woman's passion comes bursting to the surface – with tragic consequences.

"Something part palace, part prison, part museum" is how star and producer Swinton envisaged the house at the centre of this contemporary drama about the Recchis, a wealthy Milanese family. Opening with a series of almost monochrome shots of a snowbound Milan, Guadagnino closes in on the elegant but forbidding 1930s mansion, where Russian-born Emma (Swinton) and her husband Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) are preparing to host a dinner party.

On the surface, Emma is an attractive middle-aged woman, perfectly at ease with her three grown-up children and comfortable within the sumptuous trappings of Italian society. Guadagnino and cinematographer Yorick Le Saux linger over the chandeliers, wall hangings and gleaming napery that indicate decades of affluent living. But as the white-gloved lackeys hover over the birthday celebrations of ageing patriarch Edoardo, we sense that something – or someone – is about to shatter the family's much-prized unity.

Soon there is an announcement about the future of the family textile business, but it isn't the defining event of this opening set piece. Guadagnino's interest lies not in soap opera-style financial wrangling, but in how two of Emma's children unwittingly lead her towards a personal epiphany. First her daughter Betta (Alba Rohrwacher), a talented artist, causes a minor ripple by declaring that she's now more interested in pursuing photography. Emma's subsequent discovery of a heartfelt note inside a CD box reveals that Betta has fallen deeply in love – with a girl.

During the meal, a young man turns up looking for Emma's son Edo (Flavio Parenti). He awkwardly refuses to join the party, but it's clear that Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) a handsome and supremely talented chef, has struck a chord with the lady of the house. So, as Edo eagerly makes plans to open a restaurant with his friend, Emma is drawn into a high-risk affair.

The power of Swinton's performance lies not in her mastery of Italian dialogue but in her gradual, unspoken surrender to passion, over the dictates of convention. This is a film in which speeches are, for the most part, far less important than the sense of underlying tension generated by John Adams's operatic score and Le Saux's restless camera work. Late in the film there's a sinuous tracking shot that follows Emma's impulsive descent to the basement kitchen for a stolen moment with her lover.

Guadagnino's willingness to take risks in the pursuit of what Swinton has called "pure cinema" is what distinguishes this film from other stories of forbidden love involving ladies who are old enough to know better. Epicureans will experience as frisson as Emma is seduced by Antonio's lovingly prepared prawn dish. The lingering shots of those seductive crustaceans could have been ridiculous, but they're another small and believable step in Emma's awakening to the possibility of a new love. When the action moves to the glorious countryside around San Remo, Emma allows Antonio to cut her hair, in an apparent nod to her daughter's recent change of style. Her rebellion reaches a crescendo in the extraordinary al fresco sex scene, shot in huge close ups to the accompaniment of teeming insect life that threatens to drown out everything else.

Guadagnino and Swinton first worked together on The Protagonists (1999) and this latest collaboration evolved over a period of nearly 11 years. It's too early to say whether they can be measured against some of their inspirations –Tolstoy, Flaubert , Hitchcock and Visconti – but there is much to admire in this stylish and well-acted drama.

There are faults: some of the camera placements are too artily self-conscious and Emma's interactions with her husband and children often feel rather perfunctory. Unlike Visconti's The Leopard, this isn't an in-depth exploration of family dynamics buckling under the forces of history. But neither the director nor the star can be accused of timidity in the way they embrace the protagonist's headlong rush towards her destiny. And even the Master of Suspense would have applauded the shocking climax of a confrontation in the garden, which made me jump out of my seat.
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Home Cookin'
ferguson-628 June 2010
Greetings again from the darkness. A really good film from writer/director Luca Guadagnino and a terrific performance from Tilda Swinton. The film centers on power and family and trust and self-discovery ... and the complexities of each.

As a young, working class Russian, Emma (Tilda Swinton) is whisked away to marriage and life in the aristocracy of Milan. She dutifully raises her kids and organizes huge dinners and parties at their mansion as the Rechhi's entertain business clients and their own family. It is during these parties that we realize Emma is technically part of the family, but really is still an outsider. She escapes to her own space once the events are running smoothly.

Being an avid cook herself, she easily clicks with a brilliant young chef introduced to the family by her own son. Very little doubt where it's headed at this point as Emma unleashes the pent up energy she has been forced to hide. While we are very aware that the upper crust has learned to look the other way with infidelity, that's not the case with the Rechhi's and their Russian wife/mother.

The brilliance in the film is that it shows how the younger generation doesn't really fit any better than Emma. The difference is that they are part of the fabric and will be allowed more rope than an outsider. Still it is painful to watch Emma and her son, who can't quite adapt to the family business. Better yet, to watch her with her daughter, who confesses her preference for other women. Emma sees herself in these two, but doesn't have the same freedom. Her best ally is the caretaker who seems to understand the multiple levels on which this family functions.

Fascinating interactions and complex writing make this a film for film lovers. There is so little dialogue, but so much is said with a glance or head nod. Many U.S. writers could learn a thing or two. Must also mention the startling score by John Adams. It is quite operatic, which plays along with the themes of the film.
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Staggeringly Beautiful...
JoshuaDysart8 March 2010
I can't describe the power of this film, and I can't stop thinking about it either. There's a negative review on here that says to go see MICHAEL CLAYTON instead and not to waste your time. Well, if a movie about plot, overly drawn characters and artifice, all shot by the book, is what you're looking for, then yes... this probably isn't the movie for you.

But if you like people more than stories. If you want to see film-making at its most graceful and organic and inventive, if you want a musical score that will turn a sidelong glance into an operatic overture, then this IS the movie for you. It is a baroque masterwork. A cathedral of a film. Cold as stone but inspiring the soul.

Tilda Swinton is a goddess. She says so little, but communicates so much. There's an entire ocean of emotion inside or her, spilling out of her eyes. I cried twice at this film. Once because of the subject matter and then again at the delicacy of the film-making. Don't let people with conservative tastes and conventional ideas of film and story tell you not to go see this movie. They are robbing you of experiencing pure emotive cinema.
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New life to Italian cinema
Chris_Docker12 April 2010
When have you felt most alone?

Milan. Winter. Upper-middle classes,Northern Italy. A dizzying array of people who all know each other and we don't.

Speaking about I Am Love, Tilda Swinton remarks, "Overcoming the idea of oneself, as created by society, has been one of my main interests since Orlando." In that earlier film, which was based on a novel by Virginia Woolf, Swinton's character self-reflected by seeing how society views her through different time periods and even a gender change. In I Am Love, Emma (Swinton) connects with love as a revolutionary force and throws off the shackles of a persona forced on her by circumstance.

I Am Love is unusual as an art film in that it is set in a world of exquisite luxury and good taste. It is not the simplistic attack on bourgeoisie we might at first expect. Working out the underlying moral fabric requires effort (but is richly rewarded). Love, or Emma, is no martyr to idealism. Revolution (of the social order) – or love – can only be justified by its success. Even the cinematic temptation to tragedy will extolled and then dashed through with a sword.

Russian-born Emma is Tancredi's wife. Tancredi co-inherits the family textile fortunes with his son Edo. Emma, although head of the household, is something of a show wife. With style and authority, but no clearly defined role in terms of business or of culture. The traditions and values of Tancredi's father for the former have maybe skipped a generation to the untried Edo. For the latter, to his sister and artist-photographer, Betta.

Secondary characters quickly provide clues to the theme. Edo's friend Antonio is an innovative, high class chef. Cuisine elicits a life-fulfilling passion in him for perfection and meaning. And Betta has a life of her own of which the parents suspect little. "Only you love me for who I really am," she tells Emma.

A superficial reading of I Am Love could leave the viewer with the impression of tragedy in which love has terrible consequences. It is essential to analyse what one actually sees (rather than a Hollywood ending that would have emphasised different points entirely). One can then imagine conversations over glasses of chablis, berating the section where the film goes 'oh so Lady Chatterley,' oblivious to how the film attacks that very same self-satisfied air of culture without visceral involvement. Even an interest in Swinton's breasts disguised by trappings of intellectual analysis. More lowbrow cinema-goers could feel even more frustrated at the 'missed opportunities' for histrionics, the emotional 'involvement' that comes from more manipulative screen writing.

I Am Love is social melodrama in the best traditions of Italian cinema. It lines up, surprisingly, more with works like L'avventura and that film's quest for self, than the compassionate criticism of an elite class in Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). In I Am Love, good taste and refinement is simply the medium for those with an ability and wherewithal to appreciate it – epitomised by Tancredi's father, his son, but perhaps not Tancredi himself. It carries no moral connotation. Empty shells on the other hand, form without substance, ultimately and unknowingly seeks its own destruction.

Tilda Swinton's career has forged a extraordinary path. In mainstream cinema, she has been hailed for work like Michael Clayton which, while impressive, hardly shows her skill in portraying worthwhile values (compared, say, to her portrait in Stephanie Daley). Or her powerhouse as an actress, in challenging cinephile gems such as The Man From London. I Am Love has potential to reach a wider, discerning audience, than her Bela Tarr movie, being shown not only in art house but as least one multiplex chain. It has an arresting, and rather beautiful romance at its heart, and one that becomes a striking metaphor for finding one's true course in life. It is ascetically 'thinking person's cinema' yet lovers of fine things can luxuriate in the sumptuous sets and costumes that inhabit art history and couture (Silvia Fendi, third generation of the famous luxury brand, was also an associate producer on the movie). Music is by Pulitzer Prize winning composer John Adams, and the perfectly choreographed closing scenes have almost operatic intensity.

One of the pleasures of writing a review is the opportunity to think a more deeply about the film - when one has to put words to paper. Only when forced to analyse the story, to separate the expected from what really happened, did I truly appreciate it. Swinton's Emma is no modern-day Madame Bovary. Style, plot and execution is far less predictable than it seems. Clichés of rich-poor, virgin-whore, as well as cinematic tropes that have become stale are effortlessly avoided. Confusing feelings are not indicated by fast cuts, but by unrelentingly staring at the character struggle in a long take.

I particularly like Swinton's power for creating interiorisation. This is visual acting at its best, showing what is going on in her head without having it spelt out. There are moments of exultation when she can barely contain herself. And moments when she struggles to stay on course – as we should, if we want to keep up. We find ourselves transfixed by her face in the bathroom. A place of privacy, where she can almost admit to herself the jubilation at a stolen kiss. And, like the art book she forgets to pay for, full of future portent. Or the moments when she is torn, at the climax of the film. The difficult self-examination in the midst of events. When Tancredi summons damnation in the words, "You don't exist," she has passed the point where she might cling to merely existing. Freedom is the power to 'go,' and to 'do.' Any avowedly lightweight cinemagoer might complain that the deaths are not dramatic enough. The cinematography not stark enough (to make us gasp in awe every few seconds at the beautiful surroundings) or the dialogue not self-explanatory enough.
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Lovely, Lush, Graceful, Mesmerizing
jomarbut10 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is a wonderful Italian film that is lush, sensual, beautiful, and operatic in tone. It has grand scale and little moments. It stars beautiful Tilda Swinton as Emma, dressed in Jill Sander couture with Hermes and Fendi bags.

She is a Russian woman married into the rich Italian Rechhi industrial family. She has two grown children, Eduardo and Betta. They all live in a grand villa, surrounded by gates with doormen, maids, footmen, and a housekeeper. Everything is so quiet, so lush, so graceful, so perfect, so in its place. She is the perfect mother, wife, housekeeper, the perfect embodiment of a rich Italian's wife. She knows and accepts the demands of the role of the fabric magnate's wife, and as the daughter-in-law to the elder Recchi patriarch and matriarch. She is smiling, gracious, beautiful and very taut and controlled without being cold.

But she does not have a real grasp on who she is. When asked how she came to Italy, she says that her father was an art restorer and her husband was visiting them and began dating her. When they married, he brought her to Italy, changed her name to Emma, and she took on her new persona. She cannot recall her Russian name; knows only that she was nicknamed Kitesh. (She's not suffering from amnesia.) She looks to others for their reactions to events as if to gage her reaction. She gazes carefully around her as if not a part of the gathering but apart from it.

She meets a friend of her son's, a young chef named Antonio and eats one day at his restaurant. Suddenly, emotions are awakened that may have been suppressed. She's drawn to the young chef. They have an affair. She changes her behavior, cuts her hair, cooks with him, spends time away with him at his remote mountain home, and shares a Russian recipe that she cooks for her son. When Eduardo discovers that Antonio is cooking his mother's recipe, he jumps to the ultimate conclusion which she does not deny. But the argument that follows leads to tragedy and the family's undoing. She tells her husband "You no longer know who I am" and flees when the affair is discovered as her husband has told her "You do not exist." And he may be right. She may not know herself well enough to exist on her own terms, only on those given to her by a man. How he defines her is how she defines herself. At the end of the film, two arguments can be made: she is either a woman suppressed, whose awakening came when she devoured the food and the young chef. Or, she is a woman who is a blank canvas, one of those women who change with each man they are with. She let her husband rename her; she took the Italian family traditions; she looks to her mother in law and father in law for approval; she has no opinions of her own; she is a dutiful wife, mother, daughter-in-law, etc. And then, with the young chef, she shares his love of food, of the remote mountain retreat; she lets him cut her hair; she dresses more casually; she will give up everything to be with him. She may be in love but she may have also taken on yet another persona.

The most intriguing part is Tilda Swinton, who is such a chameleon in all of her films. She embodies a part like no one can, acting as blank canvas, painting the character in subtle details. She is fearless in this role. She should be nominated and should win an Oscar and other awards. You have to watch her, those eyes, that mouth and jaw, the slight emotional changes that flit across her face and her reactions to events. Amazing.
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The froth in your cappuccino
This is an impeccably designed melodrama in the classic Italian and Hollywood sense. It pays homage to Visconti, Sirk etc. in the same (but different) way that Almodovar pays homage to them (over and over again). But for a film that takes itself utterly seriously, it really has absolutely nothing to say. It glides through its themes and events without the least interest in developing any of them, all the director is interested in is the aesthetic and dramatic effect that they might offer. In fact, it is all effect. The dialogue is quite often stilted, perhaps in the manner that the dialogue can often see stilted in the classic films that he is trying to emulate, but when they're in London (for a meeting in the city...cue the Gherkin...)...the dialogue isn't stilted, it's incomprehensible...

What he lacks in substance, he makes up for in style, the World of Interiors set design is impeccable, and indeed is the star of the film, as is the wardrobe, all that's missing is the catwalk. But the camera work and editing is incoherent and gratuitous and works against the film at all times. He is using the visual language of an artist video piece to tell the story of lush soap opera...Guadagnino really throws everything he can at the spectator in order to reinvent the genre, but the result is clumsy and often annoying.

That said, this is at least a brave albeit flawed attempt at film-making, the actors look the part, which is all they're expected to do, and mostly pull off the clumsy dialogue, and there are some genuinely moving moments, if only visually. The music heightens the drama to such a pitch that sometimes you're not sure whether to laugh or explode. What could have been a great film was in the end, an often frustrating but nevertheless intense cinematic experience.
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Rating Would Probably Depend on Sex
Paul-27124 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
My wife enjoyed this movie enormously and thus would probably award it an 8 or 9 or maybe even a 10. I plain didn't like it and unlike others who enjoyed the style but not the content; I enjoyed neither.

The style is simple - leave things out of focus for no reason and from time to time run the music / noise level up to painful levels. By from time to time, I mean apparently at random because nothing I saw on the screen matched the crashing music building to a meaningless crescendo.

I managed to have no sympathy at all for any of the characters. Well, maybe not managed, but that's the way it came out. Central to the story is a scarecrow of a woman who is bored with living in wildly rich surroundings as opposed to her former life in the Soviet Union where all which is now plentiful to her was once scarce or non-existent.

There is another female who comes out of the closet. Her tremulous method of doing so implied that she'd hit some sort of drama point when she did come out, but everybody just ignored her. So that was a complete misfire.

There is some sort of semi - homosexual undercurrent between one son and a chef which never really fires. These guys, we're told, are top racers, but we never know WHAT they are racing or how. We never see them train or compete. To me this was incredibly frustrating.

The husband of the scarecrow does the GREAT CRIME common to all chick flicks. He works hard, makes good money, loves his family and is loyal to his wife. That is all it takes for the female audience to hate him and for his wife to treat him in any gross manner she can think up.

I won't spoil what exactly scarecrow does here. If you are female, go to this one so you too can hate the decency of the husband and root for the nasty wife who suffers through her servant and luxury filled life.
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Shame and scandal in the family
pulp_post3 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Well I went to see this film thinking "this is going to be another wanna-be 'film of art', pretentious, boring and shallow movie". And guess what, I was right.

However, unlike most wanna-be films of art neither the photography nor the camera work were worthwhile, and weren't enough to disguise the incredibly shallow argument and totally passionless acting.

We are supposed to feel empathy (?) for the main character, I suppose, who finds herself to be in love (????) with his son's business partner. Not that we notice that they are in love by the way, for the guy seems constantly upset and bored, while she looks insane, but not with passion - just insane, that's all.

So we are supposed to admire her for her braveness (more like deeply deprived of any kind of feelings and selfish in some outrageous way, in her case) to break (zzz...) with the rich man (zzzz...) she's married with. Of course she has to be very brave to do so, after all the film is set during the passage of the millennium (I mean, the latest passage, rather than 1000 years ago) and everybody knows how things are tough in the XXI century after all.

Maybe she had never heard about divorce in her life? Still more pointless and ridiculous than the plot and acting were some forced references to Visconti. They should have let Visconti alone, for heaven's sake, for this film is completely unable to reach his genius.
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Pretentious, disjointed, cliché ridden - in brief a laughable farce
ignominia-17 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
OK I get it, it's the Italian version of Gosford Park, a not often seen slice into high society but so badly executed that despite the title here, it's not even funny.

The camera work is annoying, jumping here and there trying to look interesting and new, shooting from behind a chandelier, from under the chair, in focus, out of focus in such way it's more distracting than anything. What is the point of the close up on Emma's shoe in the final dinner scene? We know by now she is elegantly dressed, it's just breaking the flow of the story (unless the director means to say something like : she is the "sole" of the movie...:-) The whole first part of the film is seen from far away, then the director decides it's time for closeups and we get to see some facial expressions. But if this is a movie where there is little dialogue so meaning should be inferred or expressed by the actors, the acting does not clarify a thing, you often can't figure out what is going on, what has happened as if a critical part has been chopped off by a crazy editor. At least the actors are not as self conscious as in most Italian productions I have seen (Ozpetek's movies are one example and instead of the "soap opera" lighting we have good cinematography softly caressing the elegance and sensuousness of the settings.

After the opening Padrino style scene make you think this is going to be an intimate movie about the interactions of the high class, the movie shifts its focus on food and it's Like Water for Chocolate allover and we are supposed to get excited about the food-is-life metaphor. But at this point the movie mutates into a thriller when Emma is following the cook Antonio in Liguria and all you can think of is: did she steal that book from the store before bumping into Antonio?(the 2+ hours drive from her home in the Milano area to their love nest in Liguria seems a few miles away by car - one minute she is shagging him in the grass, the next she runs into the house to dress for the next meal). Finally the story goes where most Italian movies like to meet - high charge melodrama, the stuff of swelling emotions.

The sex scene that is supposed to represent their love is really not sexy at all: they cavort in the sun, sweaty, itchy for lying on grasses and bugs; sun blasted, white fleshed, pimply and bitten. And really, are we so unsophisticated in the director's mind to make the repeated takes off bugs-in-flowers drive the fact home that "he is getting down on her?" It's sex, it's messy and really unappealing to look unless you are the one having it, but where is love in all this? In the tears of the daughter in the final scene who is supposed to show that she approves her mother's choice having herself abandoned a conventional life by playing for the other team? And what with her wearing the stupid sweatshirt she wore at the hospital 3 days before for the brother's funeral, when everybody is wearing their dark Brionis and Channels? Is that supposed to mean she is opposing funeral elegance? That gay people protest conventionality at all costs even when totally superfluous? We have the good son wanting to save the workers to protect the grandfather's memory; the bad family wanting to sell out to make quick money, we have (Joe Bob Briggs where are you? I am channeling your style), faithful servants foo, the gratuitous Russian spoken in mother and son confrontation foo (my movie version did not have subtitles so no idea what the exchange was about) not to speak of the abstract colored soup they are served which SOMEHOW proved to the son that his mom was shagging the cook - what? I could go on and on on this but the point is that this movie is not what the critics make it out to be - profound and artistic. It's a failed attempt to be even a decent movie, It's a film that clumsy direction and lack of sensitivity turned into a laughable farce. And as Joe Bob Briggs would say - don't check it out!
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I am disappoint
Meven_Stoffat11 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
First off, the direction. Some of the WORST I've ever seen, the movie continued to annoy from the beginning. There were so many weird angles and "from behind shots". Then it started to get MORE annoying, ridiculous camera movements and angles. WHAT was with all this panning and zooming????????? It was like The Hurt Locker but times A FRIGGIN THOUSAND. Worst of all was the sex scene in the meadow, I actually LAUGHED OUT LOUD in the theatre.

Add to that the bad score. So overdone and so cheesy. When the score wasn't unintentionally hilarious, it's ANNOYING. It's like the composer has no idea how to pay attention to detail.

OK that aside. I STILL don't know what the movie's about after I saw it. OK so this guy leaves his textile factory to his son and grandson, Edo... all of a sudden some months later, Edo meets the guy who beat him and is friends with him (and we don't even know how), then they're gay for each other, then they wanna open a restaurant, then they're NOT gay for each other as the grandson's girlfriend's pregnant and the other is banging Edo's mom. Too much plot, not enough STORY- one user stated that the film failed to follow the "Show, don't tell" route, and I agree completely.

The film only STARTED to make sense towards the end since Edo found out that his mom banged his friend, then the conflict began but about 30 seconds later it was over because he died. The whole death thing just seemed like laziness from the writers just so they could come up with the quickest possible way to end a conflict, and I hated it. And even the ending was predictable too. I'm not kidding, the whole theatre laughed their asses off as it cut to the credits.

The characters aren't cardboard. THEY'RE TISSUE PAPER THIN. Edo, Tilda's character, the chef, the husband... the director wants us to feel for them but we don't care enough for them since they're just archetypes of ones we've seen before. The son was the only connectible character but that was at the end when he realized what's going on, then the connection ended since... well you know. Add to that some hella bad acting, including Tilda (even she sucked... I CAN'T believe I'm saying that since I'm a fan of her!) and the guy who played Edo (I'm not kidding. He was so wooden that his coffin should have been him.

This movie was the biggest argument in "Style over substance" I've seen in a while, and I just left the theater totally gypped and robbed of two hours, and I love art cinema.
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Surfeit of 'passion' cannot save predictable tale of infidelity
Turfseer24 July 2010
Warning: 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'.
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I Am Lust
ProjectionistB13 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The title of this film should really be "I Am Lust" not " I Am Love". There's no real love anywhere in this film. If these people lived in trailers & had no money you would look at their actions with the same disgust one does when they see an episode of Jerry Springer. The main character, Emma, is despicably selfish & sleazy. She has sex with her son's friend, does absolutely nothing to help her son when he is mortally injured, chooses her son's funeral as the best time to announce that she is cheating on her husband, and reluctantly accepts her daughter being gay... Real nice. This film is a ridiculous two hour Daniel Steele novel and not art. Yes it's shot very well, but that will not give you back the time you have wasted watching these pathetic people treat each other horribly.

To put it simply it's just wealthy people doing very trashy selfish things dressed up with some beautiful cinematography and settings. Not to mention that the soundtrack is excruciating obnoxious.

Doesn't the world deserve a better statement about love? How true love requires patience, being strong even when you aren't, about forgiveness & understanding, everything this trite film failed to include?
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The Emperor Has No Clothes - May Contain Spoilers
fdbjr3 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
'I Am Love' is the most over-reviewed movie since 'There Must Be Blood', which is really saying something. It's one of those movies in which the motives of the main characters are just sort of - assumed. Tilda Swinton is the wife of a rich industrialist, so it stands to reason that she is bored and unhappy. Thus the director/scriptwriter spares himself the inconvenience of any exposition that shows her actually BEING bored and unhappy. Indeed, the ONLY reminiscence she supplies about her husband is rather warm and fuzzy.

There actually isn't any motivation for anyone, which is a little disappointing, since the pace of the movie is about as fast as glacial movement. The photography is lush and opulent, and the score by John Adams is very interesting (not always appropriate to the setting).

The movie, in short, is a fiasco.
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Felt Distant and Contrived
howard.schumann1 August 2010
Attempting to revive the golden age of Italian cinema that featured such greats as Rossellini, Fellini, Visconti, Pasolini, and others, Luca Guadagnino has fashioned a sumptuous, elegant, and physically beautiful film called I Am Love or in its Italian title Lo Sono Amore. Unfortunately, while the film has moments of emotional power, it fails to coalesce into a satisfying whole and ends up feeling more pretentious than penetrating.

Written by Barbara Alberti, Ivan Cotroneo, Walter Fasano and Guadagnino and based on a story by the director, the film begins in snowy Milan in the winter. The very wealthy Recchi family, owners of a textile factory that it is hinted supported Musolini and the Fascists during the war, is having a dinner party in their aristocratic house catered by a host of servants wearing white gloves. The elderly grandfather and patriarch of the family Edoardo Sr. (Gabrielle Ferzetti) is about to retire, evoking the Visconti film, The Leopard. Shockwaves roll throughout the gathering, however, when he names both his son Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) and his handsome grandson Edo (Flavio Parenti) as joint controllers of the business. Befitting the family's pride, when Edo tells the group that he has come in second in a race, the elderly patriarch says "The Recchis never lose." The Russian born Emma (Tilda Swinton) is Tancredi's wife and mother of three grown children, sons Edo and Gianluca (Mattia Zacarro), and artist and photographer daughter Betta (Alba Rohrwacher). Though on the surface she is a loyal and supporting wife and mother and has made a complete adjustment to the Italian bourgeois way of life, underneath there is a growing boredom and discontent as sensed by her servant Ida (Maria Paiato). We get a hint of this stirring when daughter Betta reveals to her that she is a Lesbian and is in love with a fellow classmate in England. The longing for adventure crystallizes further when she meets Edo's friend Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) who is a master chef who is planning to open a restaurant with Edo.

Joining her mother-in-law Allegra (Marisa Berenson) and Edo's girl friend Eva (Diane Fleri) for lunch, Emma's senses are fully awakened while eating prawns prepared by Antonio. Passing through San Remo on a trip to Nice to attend an exhibition to which she has been invited by daughter Betta, Emma unexpectedly bumps into Antonio who eagerly invites her to view the restaurant site. Despite the fact that Antonio is probably 10 to 15 years younger than her, this chance encounter leads to a bursting forth of Emma's tightly controlled sexual inhibitions and a swirl of passionate lovemaking in the rustic countryside, their engaged body parts mirrored by close-up shots of flowers and insects in a very poetic but overly aestheticized manner.

Reminiscent of Ibsen's 1879 play The Doll's House, the main thrust of the film is the repression of an upper class woman who suddenly discovers that there should be more zest to her life, presumably triggered by her daughter's openness in discussing her sexual preference. The love affair, however, triggers many changes in the Recchi family, both economically and psychologically. Tancredi is forced to sell their business to an Indian investor who explains that "capitalism is democracy". The scenes in London with the financiers are very strong but are treated as a minor sub-plot with the emphasis quickly given over to the family's psychological distress.

When Edo puts two and two together and realizes his mother's sexual adventures with his best friend, the result is tragedy for the entire family, a series of events handled by the director in an involving but melodramatic fashion. Though Emma has been praised by some for the courage she shows in breaking away from a static marriage, one wonders if a greater courage would perhaps have been shown if she had gotten in touch with the love she once had for her husband, fulfilled her solemn oath, "till death do us part", and resumed her responsibilities as a caring mother. While I was moved by much of the visual beauty of the film and the idea of breaking with tradition and listening to the voices within, I was infrequently emotionally involved with the characters and I Am Love felt distant and often contrived.
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An Empty Shell Masquerading as High Art
tigerfish509 August 2010
"I Am Love" opens with a sumptuous twenty-minute sequence showing the preparations for a birthday celebration at the opulent Recchi mansion in Milan, followed by a dinner where an aging grandfather bequeaths ownership of the family business jointly to his son and grandson. This extended prologue seems to be preparing the ground for a Shakespearean conflict between the austere father and his handsome son - but the anticipated paternal/filial rivalry fizzles away into a non-event, along with all the other interesting narrative possibilities.

Instead, the film abruptly decides to focus on the wife of the new family patriarch, Emma (Tilda Swinton) - an icy Russian beauty who seems to lack meaningful relationships with either husband, children or friends. She looks into mirrors, eats some dainty dishes and shops at couture boutiques, before embarking on an affair with a young chef who is a friend of her son. Their romance is presented as a great passion, but it receives the same shallow attention as everything else in the film - other than laying a dinner table and having sex in a bug-infested meadow. The film is so preoccupied with being 'artistic' that it doesn't bother to show what might attract these two misfits to one another. The extra-marital affair eventually leads to some predictable melodrama - culminating in the ponderous symbolism of doves escaping from a church. Most of the audience will have lost patience with Guadagnino's artistic pretensions and his collection of two-dimensional characters long before the disappointing climax.
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cliché upon cliché upon cliché
m-clarke2 May 2010
From the cast and reviews I was hoping for something a little more creative and interesting - only to be totally disappointed. Particularly the camera work was appalling: for much of the film I was unable to watch the screen. The inappropriate hand-held work and out-of-focus stuff plus the multitude of irrelevant clichés all made it physically hard to watch. Unfortunately, since my Italian is weak, I had to continue watching in order to read the sub-titles. Although fairly trivial and overworked, the plot could have been used to provide some tender moments. Instead, the director over-indulged himself with lots of irrelevant sub-plots and visual effects.
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My new worst movie ever
mashadsk11 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I think people should stop looking for a sense where there's no sense at all. It started with a hope for a good movie, and with time got worse and worse. Music tried create suspense where there was absolutely nothing, and made me deaf. Director fails to develop any kinds of characters, and you never feel sorry for them, but rather a little bit happier, that finally something is going on. Showing bug going on the flower during the sex scene was the top of his creativity and art vision. You kinda cannot believe till the end, that nothing's gonna happen and you've just been robbed 2 hrs of your life. Seriously, my advice again - don't try to look sophisticated and smart trying to see sense in this piece of... "art".
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Pretentious, one-dimensional characters, trite plot
joel-2803 January 2013
Let's start with what's good: beautiful outdoor shots, a beautiful mansion in/near Milan, wonderful stuff about the servants and the parties of the very rich.

That's all, folks...

Every character is cardboard; there's no depth, or at least (in the Emma -Tilda Swinton character) no believable depth. The plot has no surprises, except for one complete deus ex machina that's used to wrap it up -- with an ending that I at least found, consistently with the rest of this turkey, to be wildly unlikely and hence incredible. Ooooh the languor of the formal-dinner-partying rich, back in the days when one had a dozen servants to execute it. Ooooh the loving devotion of the chief housekeeper, mother to all three generations of "her" family. Oooooh the lovely, hairy body of the unsurprising love interest. And so on, and so on. The unfeeling, greedy industrialists? Wow, that's shocking. The sensitive son, who has no problem with his gay sibling but butts heads with his greedy cold dad? Who would have thought it? There is no interesting idea anywhere in this movie.
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I am not pleased
floatingpolarbear20 January 2016
I am not a fan of deer in the headlights style acting and Tilda Swinton gives up a great deal of it in this movie. Look at me as I stare blank faced and wide eyed as things, life things are happening around me. If anything redeems this movie somewhat, it's the splendid locations; the gorgeous mansion, the city, etc. The story fails because it does not give us anything to strive for or push against except the malaise, boredom and passivity of the main character who is not very sympathetic. It is hard to root for her, in fact you kind of hope she absentmindedly walks into a door at some point, or miscalculates and shoves an olive up her nose instead of her mouth in the repeated fork journey from plate to face.
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I Am Bored
natashabowiepinky16 August 2014
Oh, the beautiousness of True Love! You're a middle aged woman who lives a boring life, with a stoic husband and tedious friends. You're quite well off, but you're not happy. Everyday is an endless procession of parties and dull, dull conversations. I would have sympathy for you, but we, the viewers, have to experience it too. What better way to improve your mood about your shallow existence, than to make sure your misery is shared.

Then you meet... HIM. He's a chef. Much younger than you. And a DREAMBOAT. And like most nice guys in the movies, completely devoid of any interesting character quirks at all. Still, having your best years behind you, you fall for him. THE SEX IS GREAT!! You do it inside. You do it outside. Look, the camera is lingering on the close-up of a cricket! A wardrobe! A cloudless sky! It's all so arty! I can just picture the cinematographer and director doing a high-five, while I count the patches of damp on my ceiling.

Rarely how I seen such a long film, and not be able to recall almost anything about it after it was over. It was like eavesdropping on the most pretentious bunch of snobs this side of Chelsea, who have Shirley Valentine as their matriarch. Apparently, Tilda Swinton learned Russian and Italian, just for this one role. That's like learning how to disassemble and reassemble a car... so you can clean them for a living. It's just not worth it.

The synopsis may refer to it as a 'tragic love story', but I would snip the last two words off there. GREAT DVD front cover, though. That's what made me want to see it in the first place. Boy, do I regret that decision now..... 3/10
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Hopeless vainglorious triumph of style over content!
jjj-murphy13 April 2010
LIke a two-hour advert for Tatler magazine, this ridiculous piece of Swintonian self-indulgence is a triumph of cinematic style over content and is quite simply jaw-droppingly boring! I had to take stimulants to get me out of my seat at the end of the movie. Yes, Italy is beautiful. Yes, society imposes constraints on personal identity. Yes, life involves us in a constant struggle against the forces of personal psychological atrophy - but this narrative conveys no real angst at all. It really amounts to no more than a beautifully shot documentary revealing how much Tilda Swinton is in love with herself. Don't buy into the myth. Demand more from art! Movies must be more than star vehicles or they're dead in the water - like this pathetic web-footed duck of a movie.
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A complete disappointment
jean-lee14 December 2009
This movie was a complete disappointment. As someone who thinks Tilda Swinton can do no wrong, I rushed to see it. Swinton isn't bad, but the film is an incoherent mess. Beautiful house, costumes and actors, but no story, no characters (let alone character development), and a director who has no idea where to put the camera or what the effect might be. It feels like a student film made by someone with access to a steadicam and crane, but not sure how or when to use either. Badly edited with totally random close-ups, swish pans, and irrelevant cutaways. There is no sense of a tragic love story here, or any love story, for that matter. Swinton's character begins an affair with a friend of her son because of either boredom or her love of his cooking. There's never a sense she loves the man. Even the sex scenes were sadly un-erotic. One can only imagine that Swinton signed on to this because she was eager to use her Italian. Save yourself the time and go watch "The Deep End," or "Michael Clayton" instead.
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Pretentious and self-indulgent
hopek-119 April 2010
I went to this film because it was receiving such rave reviews. It was long, very long. I looked at my watch several times. The screen was filled with visually gorgeous images much of the time, which, after the first 10 minutes, added little or nothing to the plot, theme or the viewers' understanding. Using visual images as a metaphor for meaning is all very well, but endlessly repeating them is simply lazy. The plot was slight. The ending farcical (one women in the Cinema I was in actually laughed out loud and I don't blame her). The acting was wooden, but given the material they were handed perhaps one should not blame the actors. When is the western cinema going to grow up? How many more romantic films do we have to sit through being expected to believe in the overwhelming love between two people, when we are shown nothing between them but sex? This was a very disappointing experience and I would advise people to spend their time more productively.
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I hate to be inside the head of somebody that liked this film , it must be so boring in there
mahashemi18 October 2010
I could hardly see any purpose for this film I lost interest from the first 2 minutes but tolled myself that something amazing must happen and everything is just building up towards it but I was totally wrong. There is not a single interesting thing happening I was hoping for some interesting hot sexual scenes at least which I didn't get . There is a lot of food details which are mostly clumsy and unprofessional from a catering point of view. I think perhaps the scene that Tilda Swinton ate the shrimp was the highlight of the film and gave me some hope to think that something interesting might happen. The only thing that could save this film could have been a sudden alien encounter or appearance of zombies .

I actually got up to write this review and rate it half way through the film while I was still listening to it. In short it was awful and extremely over rated .
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