I Am Love

The cast of Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, had their photocall at Venice Film Festival on Sunday, so I revisited Guadagnino’s I Am Love; and it was even more beautiful this time round. 

Photo: thefilmstage.com

Io Sono l’Amore, as it is also know, is a fanciful tale. It’s dark and it’s beautiful at the same time. It holds its own, as a highly stylised piece of cinema. Not once have I ever experienced such a plethora of emotions within a two-hour time frame.

We open in Milan. It’s idyllic. A bourgeois home soon follows where preparations and celebrations are in full swing. We’ll later see Milan’s countryside. We’ll see family life and we’ll see the contrasts of life. Art is a big part of the film, as much as business is, and food is a strong contender. The alluring cinematography, just one of the many elements that keeps our eyes hooked and fascinated, is the work of  Yorick Le Saux. 

Swinton’s effortless use of the Italian and Russian languages, merely accentuate her effortless style, and with a story is somewhat complex but entirely realistic. Family. Money. Death. Love. Freedom. I Am Love follows the life of the Recchi family, focusing on the antics of Emma (Swinton) and exceptional portrayal of a woman on the brink of personal upheaval. The film follows a niche. It’s not so stereotypical, but instead, somewhat secular. It takes little twists and turns that we don’t always expect, which is exactly what we expect with cinema. But somehow, by the hand of director Luca Guadagnio, who also wrote the screenplay along with Walter Fasano, Ivan Cotroneo and Barbara Alberti, this complex tale unfolds into a handsome piece of art. 

It is as much piece of art , as much as it is a piece of cinema.  A seductive visual representation of change. Everyone is changing. Some are finding love, others are finding themselves, and sometimes, people are finding themselves in the most unthinkable situations. 

At the time of reading the press kit, I remember that I would never see such a beautiful crafted document. It is not that the words are put together for the commercial aesthetics of distribution, but it is how the words are said, put together and are entangled in the collaborative process of film. In the section entitled A CONVERSATION WITH THE CAST AND CREW, the first thing I read is this: 

“Change, overcoming the idea of oneself, as created by society, has been one of my main interests since Orlando. In Io Sono L’Amore, a film that Luca and I worked on for 7 years, these themes are presented and they are in a way that is even more magnetic.”

And if that isn’t enough, what is added to these beautiful words and wonderful explanation and deduction from this film, is this following sentiment: 

(Ferdinando Cito Filomarino · Director’s Assistant and Consultant)

“I helped Luca to meet people, to learn about the idiosyncrasies of Milan that his film is about and to apply them to the screenplay, costumes, and direction of some of the actors. Our work relationship progressively became an open dialogue, where, at a certain point, I felt free to express my opinions and he discussed them with me as freely.  This occurred thanks to Luca’s unconditional listening ability, especially when it comes to people who love cinema as much as he does.”

As an alumnus of a UCLA screenwriting programme, Art and Technique of Filmmaking, and producer’s program, though I am yet to deem myself anything other than a novice at this point in my career, but to anyone in such a field, or anyone remotely attached or as in love with cinema as one can be; only they can feel the little spark that arises from reading these sentiments. It is a film that in part, I have looked at through my studies, and one I wish to expand on further.  Reading the press kit is to us, or at least to myself, like reading the worlds greatest novel, or reading all the classic children’s tales you loved as young child.  

Photo: blogspot.com

Antonella Cannarozzi, a woman who I admire and whose name was attached to a tweet i’d once written and left pinned to my feed, was the costume designer for I Am Love. The sumptuous fabrics that grace the back of Emma, are always a main contender for talk. It is but one thing that may have suffered greatly by the small budget, with the overall production budget estimated at 10 million USD, but Cannarozzi made it work. She is, of course, a greatly celebrated visionary whose research alone on this this project, took two-years. 

“Meet Antonella Cannarozzi, an Italian native and first-time Academy Award nominee. With Fendi and Jil Sander helping with the men’s and women’s attire, respectively, Cannarozzi grew a body of research based on color and old films (mostly Hitchcock). The result: spare yet opulent looks that helped imitate the life of an upper-middle-class northern Italian family who slowly crumble in the wake of a heated love affair.”

-http://fashionetc.com

The cast is also one to be noted. One can never doubt that Swinton is right for a part. She is but one actress who is easily defined as a chameleon. Her look may be unique to her, but the way in which she moulds, is any filmmakers dream. She is somewhat troubled, and somewhat in control. She possesses a charming demeanour, and sometimes she terrifies us. It’s a beautiful presentation of life and the mind.  Alongside her, a list of both highly celebrated and up and coming names emerge. Marisa Berenson, granddaughter of fashions great Elsa Schiaparelli, as well as Woody Allen’s Michelangelo in To Rome with Love, played by Flavio Parenti. Sometimes characters are strong and resistant, and sometimes they are vulnerable and complex beings, who are at the front of every situation, but who hold back at the sight of a cocktail glass. 

It is not just the cast and their characters that we fall in love with, but the locations. Both interiors and extras become places that our hearts yearn for. The family home is but one of the first encounters we have. The interior is grand and opulent, but it is certainly homely and it doesn’t lack the qualities we dream of. The garden parties held, are therefore also beautiful. Then the small store and the even, perhaps, the dry-cleaners. But Italy easily becomes the next place you want to travel, whilst the short time in London. Elisabetta walks out of what was once my old Central saint Martins campus at Back Hill. The idea of prestige travels across waters.

There is an element of predictably. We need that. Is some of it obtuse, perhaps, but is that not what makes great cinema Plausibility, legitimacy, substance, and if anything, this film is truly beautiful in it’s storytelling and vision. 

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