Sensual Italian import is silly, grandiose, but striking. 


The Italian melodrama I Am Love is often as ridiculous and grandiose as its title. It's the story of Emma Recchi (Tilda Swinton), the elegant, composed Russian wife of a Milanese textile magnate, whose great thaw comes at the tender hands of her adult son's best friend, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), an earthy chef who becomes her secret lover.

Beautifully shot by cinematographer Yorick Le Saux (who also photographed French director Francois Ozon's somewhat similar crossover art-house hit Swimming Pool), the film chronicles Emma's sexual awakening with a visual journey that begins with the severe, imposing beauty of Milan in winter and eventually winds to a hilly seaside village in spring.

But director Luca Guadagnino consistently overplays this material. Or, rather, overplays it too clumsily. In the increasingly crowded world of cinematic food/sex connections, Emma's first, nearly orgasmic taste of Antonio's prawns with ratatouille stands out as comically exaggerated yet apparently sincere. A later scene finds Emma's son taking one look a bowl of fish soup redolent of his childhood and a flood of quick-edited recognition overcomes him, as if he'd just been given all the sections of the screenplay he isn't in. It might be a comic reference to a great scene from the animated Ratatouille were I Am Love not so utterly serious.

This is a movie where two characters make love outside, a sensuous cinematic medley of flowers, berries, leaves, and bare skin. But then as climax approaches, shots of bees pollinating flowers begin to appear and composer John Adams' forceful, striking score explodes. (And I won't even get into the film's use of the most mawkish scene from Tom Hanks' Oscar-winner Philadelphia.)

Like Swimming Pool, I Am Love is a fantasy of transgression and liberation, but unlike Swimming Pool, it seems unaware of its own limits. And along with Guadagnino's at times overbearing direction comes an unearned sense of satisfaction — plot points about globalization and homosexuality are the stuff of an old-fashioned film playing progressive.

That I Am Love warrants attention despite its immense problems is a testament to some voluptuous visuals and the presence of the frequently extraordinary Swinton, who is transfixing throughout.

Opening Friday, July 23rd

Ridgeway Four


I Am Love (Io sono l'amore)
Rated R · 120 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: Barbara Alberti, Ivan Cotroneo and Luca Guadagnino
Producer: Luca Guadagnino, Francesco Melzi d'Eril and Marco Morabito
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Pippo Delbono, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Diane Fleri, Maria Paiato, Marisa Berenson and Waris Ahluwalia

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for I Am Love (Io sono l'amore)


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Free Fire

      Slapstick shoot-em-up rises to the level of art film
    • Raw

      There’s more to this stylish French horror film than just cannibalism.
    • Power Rangers

      The cheapest heroes of the 90s return to save the Krispie Kreme


News Blog

Volunteers Paint RiverPlay Mural

News Blog

How to Turn Your Room Into a Wardrobe

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (April 27-May 3)

Beyond the Arc

Game 5: Spurs 116, Grizzlies 103: Home Cooking

News Blog

No New Taxes in Mayor's New Budget

News Blog

More Solar Power is Coming to the Mid-South

Music Blog

Eric Krasno Band live at Minglewood Hall

Hungry Memphis

Flying Saucer Downtown Reopening May 4


More by Chris Herrington

  • Last Words

    In "Enough Said," James Gandolfini makes his last lead film role his best.
    • Sep 26, 2013
  • Masters of Sound

    New albums from two of Memphis’ most distinctive stylists.
    • Sep 19, 2013
  • Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone

    • Sep 19, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation