October 6, 2010

26.09: I AM LOVE

Having missed this Italian melodrama at the end of the Film Festival (it played as the closing night film), I was quite keen indeed to get along to I Am Love. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this successfully confounded any and all expectations I did have.

The film centres on a wealthy Milanese family, the Recchis, and in particular Tilda Swinton's beautiful Russian matriarch Emma. Swinton has to be one of the bravest, most confident actors around. Not only is she ridiculously comfortable in her own body, she learnt Italian and Russian for the role and speaks not a word of English in the film. It's a phenomenal performance, and she anchors everything.

I Am Love is a film not afraid to throw you in the middle of things. We start in the midst of birthday preparations for the elderly family patriarch and we have to keep up with the swooping camera as it weaves it's way in and out of the family property. Characters are thrown at us and their relationships are slowly introduced and teased out over scenes. I'm not sure if it was because of this then, or if it was because I couldn't (at first) relate to any of these fabulously characters, but I didn't connect to the film. I appreciated the craft and the beauty of these images, but I just didn't find myself engaged, not completely in any case. Whether it was because I didn't believe in the central attraction, the wealthy characters or the strange pace the film moved at, I'm just not sure.

It is an ambitious, sensual, melodramatic and overwrought film; these are not necessarily bad things. The photography is often gorgeous and Swinton is, as previously said, outstanding. It is a great film, and one I would encourage people to see. But I perhaps need to see it again to discover what it was that disconnected me from so much of it. It's a little infuriating: I can see that it's great film, intelligently and passionately made but... it didn't fully engage me. Maybe it's me.

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