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I Am Love


 
 

Am

   

 

We are enraptured with I Am Love, a swooning sumptuous piece of controlled aestheticism by Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton (who plays Emma, our heroine, with effortless brilliance, and not only in Italian, but Italian with a Russian accent, and is also a Producer), the film a masterpiece of stylized ornamentality with echoes of Visconti, of Hitchcock, of Sirk.

 

This is a family story: the Milanese Recchi dynasty has made its fortune in the textiles business.  Emma, married to Tancredo Recchi lives in an opulent mansion; Tancredo met her in Russia, we know her family is artistic but that she is now more Italian than the Italians, the perfect hostess.  There are the grandparents, her children: Edo, Betta, Gianluca.  A meal in winter: the larger family has gathered at the mansion.  The patriarch transfers power to Emma’s husband and son, Tancredi and Edo.  A reference to the Tate Gallery dates the scene, tells us it is around 2000, and that their world is changing around them. 

 

 

There’s food in this film—for the interloper that evening is a young chef, Antonio, who comes knocking at the door with a cake for Edo, and later, the much-talked-about scene with prawns (what Swinton has called prawn-ography!), and also, a Russian soup from Emma’s lost childhood, and it is food here that makes Emma let herself be carried away by Antonio.  There’s fashion—Tilda Swinton in her dresses designed by Raf Simons (of Jil Sander), the ubiquitous Hermes Birkin bag.  All armor that you know will be discarded like so many sheath dresses, for more than family, food and fashion this is a film about love, where passion is never merely lust, where life is to be lived, and the inner life is breathtakingly important, celebrated.

 

 

And Emma’s inner life, flutter of wings, bird at an open window, sky outside. Tilda Swinton has said this about her character’s name, her childhood name that Emma had put away like so many childish things: She mentions what she was called at home, Kitesh, and Kitesh isn't actually a human name; this is a reference for those who know it...Kitesh is a legendary Russian village that was being ransacked by – I don't know who, the barbarians, of some kind – and the idea was that the village, when the marauders were coming, sank down into this... very beautiful, clear lake.  The idea is that it sank down into the lake to protect itself from the marauders, and you can go there now, and go see it in the lake, because it's so clear you can see the reflection.  But that's what Kitesh is, and we called her Kitesh because of the idea that she would be submerged. She's not suppressed, oppressed, or repressed, in any way, but she is submerged.  It's like she's waiting to come up, which she does, of course, at a point in the film. That's all we know.

 

It’s a film that is unabashedly old-fashioned, the story that of a grand classical novel.  The hip and the flippant wilt besides Luca Guadagnino’s celebration of beauty.  As NPR says, this is a film which wears its heart on its expensively tailored sleeve.  And the music, the food, the fashion, the music, the passion, everything leads up to the majestic ending, which has all the drama and grandeur that is possible in art: heartbreaking raw emotion on Swinton’s face, a bird fluttering in a church window, the wild rain, statues of stone that slowly darken in the wet........

 

See: I Am Love

 

Online: Tilda Swinton's fashion in I Am Love

 

Read: NPR article on I Am Love

 

Tags: film  food  fashion   italy    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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