I Am Love (15)

Film

Drama

I am Love.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Apr 6 2010

A work of masterly daring and skill, the new Italian film ‘I Am Love’ plays out in the late 1990s within a super-rich family called the Recchis. Their power base is a Milanese villa introduced to us by young director Luca Guadagnino as a gilded cage – a marble-and-stone palace too large and ornate to support intimate family life. In the film’s early scenes Guadagnino laps up this mansion, exploring it with a swirling, fluid camera that turns its world into a character itself. The fictional Recchis recall the Agnellis,  another troubled industrialist family which feathered its nest on the back of fascism, but they trade in textiles, not cars, and Guadagnino gives us a brief shot of their mechanised looms at work to stress how business is woven into the fabric of this family’s soul.

We meet the Recchis on the cusp of change – and change is the film’s main interest, along with the dangerous strength necessary for any woman to counter the forces of tradition and expectation in such a family. We begin by watching the elderly family head (Gabriele Ferzetti) at dinner as he nominates his successors in a scene of ‘King Lear’-like power and unnaturalness. But soon he is dead and our focus and heroine becomes Emma Recchi (Tilda Swinton), the dutiful Russian wife of Tancredi (Pippo Delbono), the family’s new head, and mother to two grown-up sons and a daughter attempting her own flight from this patriarchal world. Emma’s burgeoning friendship with her son’s business partner, Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a rural chef, is the nudge that will bring this house of cards down in dramatic, tragic fashion.

The story is bold enough, but true daring is at play in the film’s style. Guadagnino has the confidence to mix big, brash ‘Dallas’-style establishing shots of Milan and London and complicated scenes of busy parties with much more intimate, expressive moments. Dialogue becomes less important as the film progresses, and Guadagnino invites us to read the film rather than the characters’ lips. He also manages to bring the film to an operatic crescendo without losing sight of emotional realities.

There are many reasons to recommend this sensual and good-looking film about personal and female liberation. The music is one; it is central to a work that demands that all the film’s elements work together to create a total cinema. Guadagnino and his star and co-producer, Swinton, persuaded John Adams, the composer of operas such as ‘Nixon in China’ and ‘Doctor Atomic’, to allow his work to be used in a film for the first time and his crashing, arresting, impulsive music is gripping from the start.

It’s a fitting collaboration. Adams has given modern opera a much-needed shot in the arm and that’s what Swinton (who speaks Italian throughout) and Guadagnino are striving to achieve: ‘I Am Love’ is a brazen blueprint for a cinema that straddles past and future while worrying little about trends of the present. It’s a bold experiment rooted in tradition. It plays like smart opera and looks like a marriage of poetic documentary with classical European drama. Swinton and Guadagnino call it ‘Visconti on acid’ and that’s as good a phrase as any to describe the film’s intoxicating allure.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Apr 9, 2010

Duration:

119 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Luca Guadagnino

Screenwriter:

Luca Guadagnino

Cast:

Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|49
1 person listening
Mike Walker

Extremely affecting. A poem of the senses. And to the hilarious review that slams Tilda's Italian - er.... her character is Russian? Not a native speaker therefore. I'm not sure what it is that's not to get. She was part of her Husbands Collection. Her true love was an Artist of the soil; creative, sensitive. The final play is breathtaking. And then the Cave scene...... Simple and utterly moving.

Mike Walker

Extremely affecting. A poem of the senses. And to the hilarious review that slams Tilda's Italian - er.... her character is Russian? Not a native speaker therefore. I'm not sure what it is that's not to get. She was part of her Husbands Collection. Her true love was an Artist of the soil; creative, sensitive. The final play is breathtaking. And then the Cave scene...... Simple and utterly moving.

dand

Simply sublime. A love letter to love. Maybe it failed to avoid being pretentsious at times, but i just loved the cave reference. And Tilda Swinton is my new crush !!

dand

Simply sublime. A love letter to love. Maybe it failed to avoid being pretentsious at times, but i just loved the cave reference. And Tilda Swinton is my new crush !!

anon

This was pretentious twaddle. Prior to seeing this, I was a big tilda swinton fan. This appears to be a parody as developed by an Italian alternative comedy group, I understand she is going to continue working with this director (per Sight and Sound). This film was so bad that by mid film, it ceased to be funny bad. The music was irritating and somewhat inappropriate, Swinton's Italian is excreable, what more can I say? This film was, as the Italians say, far figura.

Alanis

A total, utter, failure. The hypertrophic egos of Guadagnino and Swinton should be lambasted for ever for such a pretentious, arrogant, monumental wank . Never, ever an actress was so badly cast. For God's sake, how credible is Tilda Swinton as a smoking hot sex bomb in Italy? Her awful Italian is embarassingly pathetic .How does she dare? Who does she think she is to pull it off? Obviously vanity has gone to her head to such a level that she has lost all sense of reality. The moment in which she cries " IO AMMMO ANTHOONIO!" must enter the hit parade of Cinema's most ridiculous ever line. Boring, pretentious, messy, completely unsexy, terrible acting, and the beauty of the cinematography sadly does not save a completely pointless film..

Jane

i watched this film last night - I cried at the end, the maid was unreal, her acting ability was so moving, and I loved how all the pieces of the characters fell into place near the end, what a genius film!! a friend did describe it as italian vogue meets river cottage, which was very funny !

Jane

i watched this film last night - I cried at the end, the maid was unreal, her acting ability was so moving, and I loved how all the pieces of the characters fell into place near the end, what a genius film!! a friend did describe it as italian vogue meets river cottage, which was very funny !

Albert

Brilliant. Ravishing, tense and atmospheric, and Tilda Swinton gets her baps out. What more do you want you crumbs?

Albert

Brilliant. Ravishing, tense and atmospheric, and Tilda Swinton gets her baps out. What more do you want you crumbs?

Jo.

Great scenery, cinematography and acting. All budding philosophers should appreciate Plato's cave at the end!

chris terry

I don't know how many people have been so fooled by a film as shallow and self-indulgent as this overdressed, overwrought piece of soap, that lacks a single believable emotional moment or performance, shot or cinematic gesture. It is a cliche from start to finish whose only excuse can be that it was a sort of vanity project by Tilda Swinton, whose name appears on the producer credits too. To mention it in the same breath as Visconti borders on cinematic blasphemy. The ending is as predictable as it is ridiculous. For its sheer unremitting banality in the face of its monumental pretensions, I Am Love must be one of the worst films of the century so far.

flobajob

This film which purported to be an involving drama was more of a visual feast than enything else. Over-indulgent shots of food, architecture and the countryside do not make a cohesive narrative. The film leaned heavily towards the pretentious, leaving the characters artifical, unreal and unlikeable. If this is a masterpiece then I must lack the "intelligence" to appreciate it perhaps?? Even the music was unsuitable. A great advert for the Italian tourist board-not much else.

Paul

I was unprepared for this film and shocked by what I must call a 'tour de force' describing an Italian film. A fantastic film and I will probably go and see it again. Not the sort of film I would normally expect to like, but this was good, damn good and gets my first five stars of the year.

Paul

I was unprepared for this film and shocked by what I must call a 'tour de force' describing an Italian film. A fantastic film and I will probably go and see it again. Not the sort of film I would normally expect to like, but this was good, damn good and gets my first five stars of the year.

iain Stringer

I just like that she ran away to become her real self- and become LOVE, rather than trying to be something she wasn't- PRETENSE. Her daughter was having a similar time!!!!! Iain

Pedro Caiado

I went to see this film today 'cause I like Tilda. I really wish had liked as Paul Murphy loved, but I didn't. I mean, It is daring for Tilda acting in italian and choosing this plot. But at the end of the day It is slow and boring. I didn't like the sudden camera moves, the blur sometimes but I liked the attention given to the details, like the food or the couple having sex, but was not enough. I didn't have patience to watch the end. Later I want to see Iron Man 2 .. Waste of time.

Paul Murphy

This film was an absolute knockout. Spot on Dave. I really don't begin to understand how anyone can see this film and give it one star without being a corpse. The cinematography was an absolute knockout. John Adams' music fitted and amplified the drama wonderfully. A fantastic parable on how capitalism imprisons love, beauty and humanity. Cinema like this liberates them for us all. It runs A Prophet close for film of the year.

Paul Murphy

This film was an absolute knockout. Spot on Dave. I really don't begin to understand how anyone can see this film and give it one star without being a corpse. The cinematography was an absolute knockout. John Adams' music fitted and amplified the drama wonderfully. A fantastic parable on how capitalism imprisons love, beauty and humanity. Cinema like this liberates them for us all. It runs A Prophet close for film of the year.

Graham

An utter borefest. Like a two hour ferrero rocher advert(my girlfriend loved it). Not so the gentleman in the row behind who fell asleep after an hour, then apologised to his friend for bringing him to watch this filth. That said, I will probably never looked at a prawn cocktail in the same way again. Better avoid our local beefeater.

LYRIS

At best, "experimental" and pretty to look at. It felt posey and contrived. In general, a fan of Tilda Swinton, I thought she was mis-cast. She simply can't speak Italian, reduced to monosyllabic grunts. In her defence, the dialogue as a whole was mediocre.

Lawrence

A brilliant film. Tilda Swinton excels. The cinematography, music and the sheer style of this film are a joy to watch. I didn't want it to end. To those idiots above who gave this film one star, I just say stick to 'Avatar' you morons. That's a script your peanut-sized brains can handle.

Lawrence

A brilliant film. Tilda Swinton excels. The cinematography, music and the sheer style of this film are a joy to watch. I didn't want it to end. To those idiots above who gave this film one star, I just say stick to 'Avatar' you morons. That's a script your peanut-sized brains can handle.

P Davis

John Adams music was spoilt by a self indulgent and pretentious film. "I am love" should have been," I am Death!"

ab

e un film stupendo bello tutto musica fotografia luoghi in italia non si fanno più questi generi di film si fanno più film commerciali che non hanno ne testa ne coda pensano sola a fare cassa questo e meraviglioso

ab

e un film stupendo bello tutto musica fotografia luoghi in italia non si fanno più questi generi di film si fanno più film commerciali che non hanno ne testa ne coda pensano sola a fare cassa questo e meraviglioso

Terry Wood

When I was a boy I used to imagine that I was making a movie using a camera behind my eye. Everything I saw would be up on that big screen. I Am Love perhaps comes closer than any other film I have seen to doing just that. Not my eye though, of course. This is dynastic Milano and the ravishing north Italian countryside, rather than a council estate in Southport in the 1970s. Both beautiful though, all the same. Plus, agree about the fonts: nice touch. Yes, it will divide people this one. I'm with the group who have eyes and a soul.

Terry Wood

When I was a boy I used to imagine that I was making a movie using a camera behind my eye. Everything I saw would be up on that big screen. I Am Love perhaps comes closer than any other film I have seen to doing just that. Not my eye though, of course. This is dynastic Milano and the ravishing north Italian countryside, rather than a council estate in Southport in the 1970s. Both beautiful though, all the same. Plus, agree about the fonts: nice touch. Yes, it will divide people this one. I'm with the group who have eyes and a soul.

Tim Earl

Utter drivel. Disjointed, rambling, & pointless. Go and see Avatar again instead, or, if u really insist on self-torture, stay at home and stick pins in your eyes instead. At least you wont have to walk home afterwards.

Locust

The cinematography was brilliant and the locations came alive in their own right: the family house is like a mausoleum or a museum, a place where change is not supposed to occur and in the end it does, with severe repercussions for everyone; Antonio's place in the countryside is simply idyllic, an Eden before the Fall, a place where transformation comes to a crescendo and all desires come to life. One place is stifled and still, the other one is fluid, free and erotic. This is a simple story, summarised in one sentence, told in a very lyrical way (probably a bit too Italian for one's taste and maybe too operatic). Still, it wasn't as arresting as I'd expect it to be - probably the cave metaphor killed it for me, thereby making it a bit pretentious. There are Viscontian nods but this is where the similarities end.

charlie

Surely a film about repression and self-obsession, needs a humourous hand at the tiller. Without it, this film was as repressed as its characters.

Peter Ludbrook

I have very mixed feelings about this film. I didn't find it boring just unengaging. For me it was a film to admire rather than love. The love scene was ludicrous, like an Italian Lady Chatterley! The scene at the end of them in the cave was just plain silly. Yet the film did convey the essential sterility of these people's lives for all their wealth, very much Antonioni territory. The affair with Antonio did unleash within Emma a passion that was otherwise lacking in her life. I part company with Dave Calhoun about John Adams music. Much as I like it, it seemed totally inappropriate in this context. It could have been so much better so only 3 stars.

david glowacki

489a Dull As a admirer of Italian films,this one was a bit disappointing.The direction stifles the film.2 hours long,yet each scene is one min long.Without proper characterisation you feel zilch.It is highly derivative and false.The biggest flaw though is Swinton.Her Italian is awful.Overly mannered and self conscious.She is reduced to short sentences,when a longer sentence is spoken is is out of shot.Why the film needs a British actress to act in a wholly Italian film is beyond me.The excuse for her poor Italian is that she plays a Russian living in Italy.She even speaks Russian in the film.The nudity was to me repellant.Tilda Swinton is a decent actress,but someone needs to take her to one side and tell her she has limitations.Tedious and annoying

Dicky

I agree with many of the comments in the TO review, and those of the audience. Beautifully shot, and great music. But I felt nothing for the Recchi family. Life in a gilded cage seems to have left most of them emotionally retarded, and it was hard to engage with any of them. It’s the chef, Antonio, who seems the most interesting character – quiet, a perfectionist, generous, and unassuming. Likewise, my thoughts kept flitting back to the pregnant girlfriend. A good evening’s cinema, but not great. Worthy of 3 or 4 stars. (A slight niggle – white subtitles on predominantly white backgrounds do not make for easy reading at the very start of the film.)

gumbostew

Intersting but not unexpected difference of views on this - not for everyone but slow is a matter of taste - I would say long and well paced. The story is classic (tragedy ?) with interesting parallels to another great Italian dynastic epic - The Leopard. This is real film making and as such is bound to provoke reactions of all sorts. I am really confused by some of the comments above (arty porn ? - one sex scene in a 2 hour movie ?). I would say go see it and marvel

ED

Clearly a film to divide opinion. Personally I loved it! The score and design were perfect - blown away by John Adams, beautiful scenery and imagery; great fonts too. All in all, much better than I expected.

ED

Clearly a film to divide opinion. Personally I loved it! The score and design were perfect - blown away by John Adams, beautiful scenery and imagery; great fonts too. All in all, much better than I expected.

Mr Kiss Kiss

Like in all good films the sparks begin to fly when a patriarchal dynasty wobbles. The foundations of a not so family run business crumbles as the apple crumble makes the wife goes crazy for the chef who is having eyes for her son but the trapped pigeon is the final metaphor of a trapped daughter studying at St Martins (pre move to Kings X). He cooks prawns and she steals a book about abstract painting which as everyones knows is just the pretty face of modernism. Finally she cuts her hair of and mimics the daughters soft shoe shuffle ....not a dry eye in the house.

Mr Kiss Kiss

Like in all good films the sparks begin to fly when a patriarchal dynasty wobbles. The foundations of a not so family run business crumbles as the apple crumble makes the wife goes crazy for the chef who is having eyes for her son but the trapped pigeon is the final metaphor of a trapped daughter studying at St Martins (pre move to Kings X). He cooks prawns and she steals a book about abstract painting which as everyones knows is just the pretty face of modernism. Finally she cuts her hair of and mimics the daughters soft shoe shuffle ....not a dry eye in the house.

Helena

Elegiac. Being suddenly in an affair is the whole point of the film - the patriarchal regime collapses and Emma finds a freedom. I thought it was a beautiful film, although the shots of nature during Emma and Antonio's al fresco shenanigans made me laugh - insects crawling in and out of frothy seed heads!? But other than that, the art direction was brave; and I liked the fonts. A four, not a five....

Jenny

Oh dear. I'm afraid I snorted out loud at the end of the film - unintentionally hilarious, and with one of the worst ever sex scenes I have ever seen in my life - talk about every cliche in the book, close-ups of lustful insects, crashing music - yes, we get it.. Truly awful, but so bad it was almost good - the scene at the end when they are in the cave was laugh out loud funny - yes, yet again we get it, Tilda (can't remember her name and funnily enough she claims she can no longer recall her name - loss of identity, let's get a trowel out and and heap on more symbolism - but the last shots when they have divested themselves of their clothes, again, and are interlocked in a dirty cave - PLEASE! Did anyone else think the family was appalling towards Edo's wife/fiance/ girlfriend? One minute she was heavily pregnant - did I miss a trick, but she no longer seemed pregnant at the end? I have to say I haven't laughed so much at a film in ages!

Will

Deeply disappointed! Simply very dull and slow, if beautiful and with fantastic music. But I didn't care for any of the characters, and had no reason to with the complete lack of character development. Somewhere there was an interesting story to be told, but it felt like an Almodovar film minus the drama, flair and interest.

Sutton

I too was impressed by Mr Calhoun's review (normally pretty good) and the trailer, but came away hugely disappointed by the film. Whilst the cinematography, music and food on display was a gread advertisement for a holiday in Italy, I found the film slow and dull. The themes were unoriginal and I had no sympathy for any of the characters, aside from Edouardo. Does Tilda ever keep her clothes on in movies? ....the female Ewan McGregor! That said impressive that she spoke Italian and the film was beautifully shot.

Ana Frajtag

My husband and I dutifully follow your film reviews, which in general we tend to feel happy and agree with. Being serious film buffs, we were dumbfounded by your eloquent accolade for this film, which we found pretentious, shallow and boring, and just a self indulgent excuse for Tilda to appear naked in sex scenes with a younger man (nothing to do with her double life in reality ?). The acting is dreadful, there was not a single piece of acting that was convincing or deserving of your 5 stars rating. Did I feel a whiff of nationalistic pride? Our English girl doing good internationally, lets applaude her? The title should have been "I am lust" mixed with "A woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown" without the masterly direction of Almodovar. The plot could have been interesting but in the end it was a load of tosh and left us both feeling very disappointed and angry for the waste of money and time!

mike

have i seen the same film ?? the guy in front of me said it was utter rubbish my firned who really likes tilda swinton kinda of liked it i thought it was like arty porn the woman is just suddenly in affair really kinda of boring rich family then affair love then shock change unless you want to see tilda swinton naked dont waste your money