Io sono l’amore
Italy, 2009, 120 minutes
Sun, May 02 / 3:30 / Castro / IAML02C
From the opening titles, which sweep the screen as they might in a long-lost Visconti film, I Am Love, bewitches its viewers as thoroughly as any of its central characters seduce each other. Set among a bourgeois industrial family in Milan beset with sibling rivalry, power jockeying and erotic undertows, I Am Love, updates Visconti for the Berlusconi aristocracy of fashion, food and globalization, while never losing touch with a core operatic intensity. In her most absorbing performance since Orlando, Tilda Swinton plays a Milanese magnate’s Russian trophy wife who realizes the emptiness of her existence once her children leave the nest. A chance meeting with her son’s best friend, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), sets her on a collision course with propriety. The conflagration of attraction summons classical parallels, but in cinematic terms it’s up there with Antonioni and Monica Vitti or Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman. Luca Guadagnino brilliantly directs the wonderfully sophisticated script cowritten with Barbara Alberti. Yorick Le Saux’s camerawork, meanwhile, dazzles in its sweep from baroque splendor to the precise gesture—Swinton’s hand swiftly wrapping a cord at the dinner table, as if her unraveling world could be rewound—or the Lawrencian splendor of nature in San Remo. Guadagnino has an ear as much as an eye, and boldly incorporated compositions by John Adams while gambling (successfully) on winning the composer’s permission afterward. That audacity carries through to every element of this superb melodrama, a film that reimagines the form with bold originality and not a hint of irony.
—B. Ruby Rich
Presented with support from Fred Phillips.