In Luca Guadagnino’s Italian film, I AM LOVE (LO SONO L’AMORE), we meet the Recchi’s, a dysfunctional yet wealthy family who is well known in Milan for their fabric factory that has been in the family for decades. It is in this sad dreary film that we see how wealth does not buy happiness and how acting on impulses can ruin more than your life.
This drama has beautiful camera work, amazing scenery, a wardrobe that makes me want to win the lottery and some fine acting but the story is terrible. The patriarch in the Recchi family announces his retirement at his birthday lunch and that he has decided his successor will be both his son & eldest grandson, Edoardo Recchi Jr (Flavio Parenti). While taking on this role, Edo also decides to open a restaurant with friend and chef Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini). Throughout all of this, Edo’s mother, Emma (Tilda Swinton) finds herself emotionally moved when tasting the food creations made by Antonio. I can relate to being moved by amazing meals as eating is one of my most favorite things to do, but I cannot condone her actions that follow. Her love for his food turns into a reckless love affair.
I really enjoyed watching Flavio Parenti as the spoiled son who is thrust into a role of responsibility alongside his father and the adventure of opening a restaurant with a chef you believe in…a very complex part to play and he does a nice job. But he was another side story in this film focused on his mother.
Tilda Swinton’s performance was well done even if the story didn’t jive with me. Her catatonic reaction at the funeral was impressive but I never knew if we were supposed to be rooting for her, against her or what my position was supposed to be as a viewer. Her selfish actions when her family needed her and she was off hiking with Antonio were frustrating and depressing. I didn’t really see their connection and felt like it was forced and unnatural. Where did this come from? How was their relationship consenting? It seemed like it would be one-sided at best.
The slow paced tone of this film made me feel antsy and bored while figuring out where the family’s story was going. Meanwhile the intense score made me uneasy and the violins had PSYCHO undertones so it was not a pleasant viewing experience with these two factors against it. There could have been so much more to this movie than the affair, so many avenues that were fascinating about this family from Emma’s Russian upbringing, Edo’s love for the factory or his new girlfriend and the dynamic of bringing her into his family.
The possibilities for this movie are endless, especially with this cast, the location, the costuming…heck the title for crying out loud made it seem like there would be more to this film than what it was. I AM LOVE seems misleading and untrue. I AM SELFISH or I AM BORED would have been more fitting titles for this tragedy.