I Am Love (Io sono l'amore) is an aesthete's wet dream. The story follows the lives of a wealthy Milanese family, the Recchi, whose patriarch relinquishes control of their textile manufacturing company in favour of his son, Tancredi and-surprisingly-his grandson, Edoardo..
Director Luca Guadagnino loses no opportunity to allow his camera to record a multitude of painterly images around the stunning locales as the lives of the principals gradually unravel. Tilda Swinton as Emma, Tancredi's Russian wife, becomes involved with Antonio, a chef who has befriended her son, Edoardo, and plans to open a restaurant with him.
These prosaic themes and devices become increasingly burdened by the attempt to show that style can and should triumph over content. Huysmans, Visconti and Malick all seem to be present and their voices clamour for our attention. Toward the end, though, even the plodding narrative loses its way when Edoardo guesses at his mother's affair with his friend and in his rage, slips and falls into the pool, drowning. A script more willing to acknowledge a sentient audience would have allowed all concerned to live on with their shared knowledge of the guilty past. But rather than saddle the haute bourgeoisie with irony, Guadagnino borrows from Paul Verhoeven and gleefully kills off his attractive cast, one way or another.
By the time that the faux denouement arrived, this viewer had no interest in any of the stripped-down characters and was more perplexed than curious as to why anyone would want to tell their story.
** (5 star rating system)
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