I Am Love (Lo Sono L'Amore)
Like Italian filmmaking maestro Luchino Visconti’s 1969 wartime epic The Damned, I Am Love begins with the birthday celebration of an ageing Italian industrialist. As the family and guests gather for dinner, they await the announcement of who will be the successor to the business, unaware that it will trigger a series of events that will impact their lives forever. It is here that Russian immigrant Emma (Tilda Swinton) first meets her son’s friend Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a gifted chef, with whom she begins an illicit love affair which gives rise to new passions, emotions and a desire for liberation.
I am Love is a film of rare formal grace. Similarities to Visconti can be seen not just in the subject matter but also in writer/director Luca Guadagnino’s visual style, defined through fluid camera movements like the elegant rise and descent down a stairwell in pursuit of one of the film’s protagonists. Closer in terms of atmospherics to the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini (most noticeably Theorem), I am Love is filled with intrigue, unsaid thoughts and latent emotions. Other scenes too stand out for their conscious evocation of the senses – the lovemaking scene in the meadow realised through a series of close-ups of body parts and nature. And the film’s ending, accompanied by a dramatic score by Pulitzer winning composer John Adams, shows an inclination towards American melodrama.
This is inspired and accomplished filmmaking and with its confident aesthetic and awareness of cinematic tradition marks Guadagnino as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Italian cinema.
GFT, Glasgow and selected release from Fri 9 Apr.