By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
This film is on the edge of “Oscar” movies, getting its sole nomination for costume design, although if Italy had submitted it in the Foreign Language category it probably would have given that a run as well.I Am Love reminds me quite a bit of last year’s A Single Man.Both films are built around showcase acting and a whole lot of classic movie style, with story taking a supporting role.
Swinton is a rich Italian wife embroiled in a family in turmoil, whose godfather recently handed the reins of the family business to both his son (her husband) and grandson (her son) concurrently.This causes a rift that she is on the wrong side of as an outsider reluctantly grafted into the family tree.She sees a glimmer of hope among all of these family politics in her son’s friend- a chef unconcerned with all of this pretension.Following down that rabbit hole could prove dangerous, though.
Rabbit hole meaning LSD, obviously
Swinton’s performance is more impressive than great.The acting itself is up to her usual standards of excellence, but isn’t mind-blowing.However, the circumstances around are role are.Swinton, a purebred Englishwoman, plays a Russian immigrant who’s spent her adulthood in Italy, and she slips in and out of Italian and Russian like a native speaker.
As for the classic movie style, I love the opening shots of Milan and the credits that use a style taken straight from a 60s Italian New Wave film, and a similar sense of old-school classiness permeates the production.In particular, a scene where she first samples the chef’s cuisine takes you back to a style of film-making that we haven’t seen the like of for some time.
The cinematography, art direction (costumes included), and sound design are also top-notch, but what really ties this film together is its ending, which smoothes over a lot of narrative flaws in a striking manner that will keep you thinking well after the film is over.
So, about those narrative flaws.At a certain point it seems like the screenwriter has gotten so tied up in the meditative beauty of his images that he’d forgotten about keeping things moving. So, he hurriedly slapped together a melodramatic soap opera climax to bridge to his meditative, beautiful ending and called it a day.
This film also suffers a bit from the simple fact that it’s kinda hard to empathize with these people.A lot of the problems that these characters face are hardly what I’d call universal. As always, I’d gladly trade for the problems of the rich.
If you’re missing the days of Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman, there’s hope yet.If you don’t know who they are and/or are repulsed by the idea of Tilda Swinton’s naked body, you might want to give this one a pass.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time somebody does something passionately Italian
Take a Drink: every time a father figure disapproves of something
Drink a Shot: each time Tilda Swinton orgasms, whatever the cause