I Am Love

I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino, 2009) aka Io sono l'amore

Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini

Emma left Russia to live with her husband in Italy. Now a member of a powerful industrial family, she is the respected mother of three, but feels unfulfilled. One day, Antonio, a talented chef and her son's friend, makes her senses kindle.

The opening act of Luca Guadagnino's film establishes the stature of the Recchi family as surely as the Corleones are established in The Godfather, or the Salinas in Visconti's The Leopard. It may be impossible to write about this film without evoking The Leopard, not simply because they both involve Italian aristocrats, but because they involve matters of succession, and the way that love and lust can breach the walls aristocrats live behind. Guadagnino makes the connection inescapable by the use of the name Tancredi; in The Leopard, Alain Delon pays the Salina nephew of that name. Roger Ebert.

As unrepentantly grandiose and ludicrous as its title, Luca Guadagnino’s visually stunning third narrative feature suggests an epic Visconti and Sirk might have made after they finished watching Vertigo and reading Madame Bovary while gorging themselves on aphrodisiacs. Further enticement (as if any were needed): Tilda Swinton, in yet another bravura performance, stars as an unhappy, unfulfilled Russian wife of a Milanese industrialist and mother of three adult children whose passions are awakened when a man prepares her a plate of perfectly seasoned shrimp. As her impeccably arranged chignon unravels and her salmon-colored finery shucked, it’s impossible not to succumb to the operatic sweep. Melissa Anderson.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 22 February, 2019 | Now: 17 April, 2021