February 25, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Io sono l’amore (I Am Love)

By |2018-03-21T18:42:16+01:00February 18th, 2011|Reviews|


Date: 2009

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Pippo Delbono


hat could have been another staid movie about upper class infidelity is in fact transcendent. Credit to Tilda Swinton, whose subtle turn as disaffected Italian socialite Emma Recchi stems the tide of feistier past roles in “Michael Clayton” and “Burn After Reading.” Here she proves she’s as effortless as she is versatile.

The story is no less understated. Russian-born Emma has lived in Milan more than 20 years as the Italianized wife of wealthy textile manufacturer Tancredi (Pippo Delbono). Whatever her name was back in Russia, she’s forgotten. “Emma” is just what Tancredi calls her. No bridge exists between her present and past, save the fish soup ukha she cooks her adult son Edoardo (Flavio Parenti). But it would be a lazy observation to call Emma unhappy, or to say she suffers a woman’s mid-life crisis. Her dilemma is never that transparent.

Emma, we learn, is simply too human. When Edoardo’s young chef friend Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) prepares Emma a special dish of prawns, it provokes her sensuality. A lush cut-in shot of Emma’s mouth becomes the first of countless erotic moments made gripping by composer John Adams’ frenetic score. Emma and Antonio share the kind of idyllic love affair that should put ennui to rest: making love in the grass and sun, lips and skin scuttling adrift. All this until a poorly timed bowl of ukha gives way to tragedy.

Luca Guadagnino’s even-handed direction finds beauty in mundane moments — glances, breath, touch, pause. It’s a cinema of feeling, and an overdue return to old school Italian form.

About the Author:

Lauren Jurgensen graduated with a degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Mary Washington. When she wasn't studying the coming-of-age rituals of West Africans, she was writing daily for local papers in the Washington, D.C.-Metro area. A passion for spreading the word about world cinema eventually led her to become president of the campus film club. There, she insisted on screening Italian crime dramas and the Rome-set films of director Federico Fellini. She lives in Virginia, where she writes haiku, bikes, and builds an endless personal library of books and vinyl records.