I would give this Italian production 5 *’s on the strength of its advertising campaign alone.
From the moment I saw the alluring posters; with its high-fashion style photography and powerful Persian Rose Pink typography to display its curious title, I was spellbound. They were works of art in themselves which lit up my comings and goings on the underground. It was hardly necessary for me to even watch the movie as I would have been happy to merely look at the poster all day long. But of course the casting of the queen of celluloid cool, ‘Tilda Swinton’ persuaded me it was compulsory viewing, as though she looks gorgeous in the poster, she is an actress rather than model and one of the finest at that. Furthermore the trailer lent to the air of intrigue surrounding this release as it revealed nothing yet remained deeply fascinating. Top marks there as ambiguity is nearly always appealing as it has such possibility. So after all this piquing of interest, did the main act disappoint?
The opening scene depicted a snow-caked urban terrain to a dramatic classical music score and closed on snowflakes descending upon a luminescent palatial abode. Once inside the elite interiors of this mansion, a sense of disquietude is conveyed by intrusive camera angles and many an exchange of meaningful looks.
The mysterious concealment of the storyline from the trailer intuitively I felt was deliberate and quite rightly so. The action of the film is neither eminently exciting nor remotely original, its structure based on familiar themes of the gilded cages of the bourgeoisie, the eroding of traditional values and one woman’s awakening and undoing through passion. But I think as an impartial observer, one ought to know nothing of the plot to enjoy an untainted cinematic experience, especially in this suspenseful operatic piece that hints at the serpentine forces that come into play. Therefore I care not to talk about the narrative of the film but instead on its execution.
Luca Guadagnino’s film could be described as a glossy tragedy, with its highly stylised rendering of events, at times understated, at others over the top; it is collectively nothing short of a masterpiece. The musical score is thrilling, ill-boding and rather wonderful and the acting exceptional. Tilda displays her customary brilliance, her Italian is impeccable and her character’s couture is divine.
This spectacle benefits from the grand Milanese architecture and is truly elegantly shot. 'I Am Love' is a surreal and sublime sensory overload. Speaking of love, the character of Edoardo Recchi Jnr (and potentially his real life counterpart) is a worthy replacement of all his predecessors as the ideal object of my affections.
Epic, melodramatic and subtly mesmerising; this is an aesthetic treat for the subconscious. Comparable to Brideshead Revisited, in its ostentatious setting and philosophical overtones and perhaps more even more reminiscent of Madame Bovary, ultimately as a package it was a unique cinematic offering, exceptionally clever in its coy suggestions to the peculiarities of existence. It provides us with an ingenious and imperceptible understanding of what it feels like to lose the plot of who we are as the escalating confusion of the final sequence is unravelled, runs parallels to the protagonist’s grasp that one’s profession, location and lifestyle are transient things that can be forgotten. Then the terrifying dismantling of the comfort of our identities confronts us with the pure ‘being’ aspect of our true natures.
This is really worth seeing especially for lovers of beauty and the profound. It reminds us that we are not the roles we adopt, the styles we affect or the people we pretend to be but instead and quite simply, we are love.