or: Style over substance.
One word to sum it up: Melodramatic.
From trailers, reviews and other things I'd seen of I Am Love, I thought I would be getting an indulgent Italian feast for the eyes. I still got that, but that was all I got. I know that mostly everybody likes this film, but I didn't. It was like everything surrounding the story was good, but the story was just so melodramatic and plotless that I couldn't feel moved by it. Which is a shame, because it was really going somewhere.
Over two decades ago, Emma (Tilda Swinton) left Russia to follow Tancredi Recchi (Pippo Delbono), 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 (Edoardo Gabbriellini), 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.
I always feel guilty when I give a negative review on a film which has been getting loads of positive feedback from the film-going world, but I have to from I Am Love. Trust me, I tried my best to like it. Usually I would like a European film of it's kind. The direction and style that was put into this movie was undeniably amazing, as was the powerhouse performance from Tilda Swinton. Unfortunately, the subpar story let the whole thing down. If there was a bit more bite, or if the story packed a bit more of a punch, then I may have had more interest in it. Because there was only so much aestetic pleasing I could take before I eventually switched off from this movie.
I Am Love chugs along at a painfully slow pace, where nothing substantial ever seems to happen. I can't help but feel this is due to the shallow story telling and lack of narrative devices which I really dig in movies. What made it worse was the fact that the characters weren't particularly likeable, or I didn't have the will to care for them, and therefore dismissed this movie before it had the chance to truly get going. By the time I Am Love reached it's final act, it tries to win back some attention with it's absurd new storyline. The end is not only frustrating, but it's also remarkably lazy and cliched. I Am Love is just a reminder that we have seen this story so many times before, and a little style helps it, but the all round slowness of the project drags it down by miles. I loved the aesthetics of this movie...if that was all I liked.
THE VERDICT: Shallow and plotless, I Am Love is a frustratingly light film which fails to be thought provoking or as tragic as some have led you to believe. Despite that, the unwillingly beautiful direction and performance from Tilda Swinton lifts this from being the soap opera it really is.