Profile: Luca Guadagnino on his role in I am Love
1971, Palermo, Sicily.
Guadagnino actually spent the early years of his life in Ethiopia, before moving back with his family to Sicily aged seven. Having studied cinema at university in Rome, where he wrote a thesis on Jonathan Demme, he made his directorial debut with this experimental documentary-cum-thriller The Protagonists (1999), the first of several collaborations with British actress Tilda Swinton. In 2005 he directed Melissa P, an adaptation of a controversial erotic novel about an Italian teenage girl’s sexual experiences.
What’s he up to now?
Guadagnino’s operatic family melodrama I am Love is released in the UK this week, which has been attracting impressive reviews since its premiere at the Venice film festival last autumn. An opulently-designed affair, it stars Tilda Swinton as a Russian woman, who has married into a super-wealthy Italian dynasty.
On the structure of I am Love
‘I think the unusual structure of the film is one of the elements of fascination for the viewer. I tried to break the rules of the three-act structure, where straightaway you understand all the trajectories of the story. I wanted to show at the beginning the family environment in which Tilda’s character Emma is buried.’
On filming in Milan
‘If you want to talk about the haute-bourgeoisie in Italy and a class that rules through money, then you have to talk about Milan. The city is actually one of the most expensive places in Italy to shoot a movie because of the cost of hotel rooms and filming permits, and the municipal authorities didn’t really help us.’
On directing Tilda Swinton
‘To me directing actors is a very intimate process, and its embarrassing to speak about how I direct a particular actor. It’s like making love to a person. All I will say is that when you make a movie with Tilda, you make love beautifully.’
On the tyranny of the close-up
‘Why is that so many films today rely on close-up shots of people talking? They give you no visual sense of where you are or why you are there. To me the last mainstream movie that used close-ups intelligently was The Silence of the Lambs.’
The first film Guadagnino ever saw at the cinema was a re-release in Ethiopia of Lawrence of Arabia, when he was aged just three.
I am Love, GFT, Glasgow and selected release from Fri 9 Apr.