Thursday, 30 December 2010

Io Sono L'Amore (I am Love)

I’m trying to improve my Italian, so spending some time here watching TV programmes and films. This 2010 film features Tilda Swinton, an actress I really admire, and has won a lot of awards.

At the beginning of the film a beautiful Russian woman, collected when very, very young by the Italian heir to a textile fortune, has just spent 30 years as a trophy wife in fashionable Milan. Tilda Swinton plays Emma, the inscrutable, perfect wife whose life lacks love and passion. Her 3 children are grown up and she claims she can no longer remember her Russian name and has no identity outside her marriage. Then Emma meets a young chef, a friend of her son and her whole existence as wife and mother is thrown into jeopardy.

It’s a good study of the Italian family and a woman’s place in it. Lavish family meals form the narrative spine of the film - celebrations of birthdays, engagements, business deals, illicit lunches, funerals. It’s all beautifully filmed, gloriously stylish, but rather slow.

If the film has a message beyond food and sex it’s that the old Italian family is in decline - the Recchi’s business is being overtaken by competitors from Asia and their women are no longer under patriarchal control. Emma is having an affair with a chef and her daughter has become a lesbian.

I was left feeling rather dissatisfied at the end though, feeling that the narrative should have had deeper layers. But perhaps that’s unfair - it was very enjoyable and films are all about entertainment. It’s filmed by an Italian director with music by John Adam and definitely deserves its ‘best foreign film’ award.

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