Friday, 25 June 2010


Rialto Distribution
Now Showing

The opening credits of Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love positively scream melodrama: 1950s Hollywood melodrama to be precise. An insistent and lush yet foreboding score, and even the font chosen for the titles all hark back to those women's pictures of old Hollywood, the ones which Todd Haynes paid such perfect homage to in his 2002 film, Far From Heaven.

Guadagnino doesn't succeed quite as well Haynes for while the ingredients are there – wealth, beautiful things, hidden emotions, forbidden love – the drama is sorely lacking, as though in transporting the genre to modern day Milan, something has been lost in the translation.

That's no fault of leading lady Tilda Swinton who's as engaging and enigmatic as ever, playing the young matriarch of a Italian textile family. Emma (Swinton) is originally from Russia which explains her outsider status within the Recchi family as well as her halting Italian (although props to Swinton who learnt to speak Italian with a Russian accent specifically for this role). It's when Emma learns of her daughter's secret love and soon embarks on an affair of her own that the wheels of inevitable tragedy are set in motion.

Sadly, those wheels move at an awfully languid pace making the two hour film feel much longer. Yes it's beautiful to look at and adorned throughout with cinematic references, both of the aforementioned era of Hollywood as well as Italian cinema. But beauty – and enjoyment – is in the eye of the beholder, and this reviewer needs more than pretty things to sustain his interest. Unfortunately, Tilda Swinton alone simply wasn't enough.

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