Emma left Russia to live with her husband in Italy. Now a member of a powerful industrial family, she is the respected mother of three, but feels unfulfilled. One day, Antonio, a talented chef and her son's friend, makes her senses kindle.
Over two decades ago, Emma left Russia to follow Tancredi Recchi, the man who had proposed to her. Now a member of a powerful industrial Milanese family, she is the respected mother of three. But Emma, although not unhappy, feels confusedly unfulfilled. One day Antonio, a talented chef and her son's friend and partner, makes her senses kindle. It does not take long before she embarks on a passionate affair with the sensuous young man. Written by
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"I Am Love" opens with a sumptuously photographed twenty-minute sequence showing the preparations for a birthday celebration at the opulent Recchi mansion in Milan, followed by a dinner where an aging grandfather bequeaths ownership of the family business jointly to his son and grandson. This extended prologue seems to be preparing the ground for a Shakespearean conflict between the austere father and his handsome debonair son - but the anticipated paternal/filial rivalry soon fizzles away into a non-event, along with all the other interesting narrative possibilities. What follows is a damp squib, as director Guadagnino offers only a trite TV soap storyline wrapped up in the luxurious finery of grand opera.
The film abruptly decides to focus on the wife of the new family patriarch, Emma (Tilda Swinton) - an icy Russian beauty of modest origins who seems to lack meaningful relationships with either husband, children or friends. She looks into mirrors, eats some dainty dishes and shops at couture boutiques for a while, before embarking on an impulsive affair with a young chef who is a friend of her son. Their romance is presented as a great passion, but it receives the same shallow attention as all the other relationships and issues in the film
other than laying a dinner table and having sex in a bug-infested
meadow. The film is so preoccupied with being 'artistic' that it doesn't bother to show what might attract these two misfits to one another - and if one were interested enough to speculate, general boredom would appear to be the best bet. The extra-marital affair eventually leads to some predictable melodrama - culminating in the ponderous symbolism of doves escaping from a church - but a discerning audience will have lost patience with Guadagnino's fraudulent artistic pretensions and his collection of uninteresting, two-dimensional characters long before the disappointing climax.
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