I Am Love Luca Guadagnino

I Am Love Luca Guadagnino
In the special feature interviews, director Luca Guadagnino and actress/muse/co-producer Tilda Swinton make numerous references to Luciano Visconti (The Leopard) when discussing the inspiration for this film. It's an appropriate reference to Visconti's elegant, bourgeois style of filmmaking in the '60s, a tone Guadagnino has tried to capture. It's not his first feature, but his sublime sense of cinematic enthusiasm brings the same feeling of excitement we felt from the first films of Godard, Tarantino, Welles, etc. The Visconti comparisons are worthy, but a more accurate comparison would be to Tom Ford's chiselled visual elegance in A Single Man, or even Bernardo Bertolucci's razzle-dazzle in The Conformist. Like both, I Am Love is classiness personified, showing an unabashed adoration for the finer things in life: good clothes, good food and nice cars. But like any good storyteller, he puts his characters through the emotional ringer, spitting out his hero, Emma, on the other side a changed woman with a new zest for life. The film opens with the preparations for a dinner party gathering in a gorgeous Italian estate to celebrate the birthday of Edoardo Recchi Sr., patriarch to a wealthy, aristocratic Italian family. Guadagnino's hero, Emma Recchi (Swinton), daughter-in-law to Papa Recchi, appears to be the head of the household, making all the arrangements and coordinating everyone's movements. A bold pronunciation by Edoardo announces his retirement, bequeathing control of the family textile business to his son (Emma's husband) and his grandson. As the ripple effect makes its way through the family, Emma, who, by gender and poor immigrant background, seems lost and forgotten in the mix, discovers love with her son's new friend, Antonio, a chef whose charm, good looks and culinary skills are an irresistible aphrodisiac. But Emma doesn't act on her impulses immediately. Guadagnino admirably holds back as long as possible before putting them together. The moment occurs in the third act, releasing a flood of overflowing silent tension, which Guadagnino has built up inside Emma. It's a great, award-worthy performance from Swinton, playing an Italian immigrant who has to speak both Russian and Italian, but not English. Her character is deep and has a lifetime of angst and turmoil, which are revealed carefully. Even after Emma beds Antonio, Guadagnino stays on the far side of melodrama while providing a rip-roaring, energetic and wholly satisfying finale. Deservedly, Luca Guadagnino was placed on Variety's annual list of top "10 Directors to Watch" this year, beside, namely, Tom Ford (A Single Man), David Michod (Animal Kingdom), Sam Taylor-Wood (Nowhere Boy) and Rodrigo Cortes (Buried). The DVD includes audio commentary from Guadagnino and Swinton, behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews with the cast and crew. (Mongrel Media)