It is hard sometimes to rush into love. One doesn’t know what one is truly getting into when one dives into a committed relationship. This of course includes family, finances, and personality differences. In I Am Love, Emma (Kitesh) feels like she has rushed into a relationship that she cannot get out of even twenty years later.
When she was a young woman in Russia, she met a handsome young Italian, who loved and collected art. She fell in love with him and he married her. She naturally went with him to Italy and from then on she was Italian. She gave up her real name, submitted to the customs and produced heirs for her husband to carry on their financial dynasty. However she seems to never be truly a part of the family.
The film opens up on preparations for a birthday party for the head of the family, grandfather. At this dinner, he announces that he will be retiring and will be leaving the dynasty to the hands of his son (Emma’s husband) and to the shock of everyone, their son (Edo). Although Edo had just lost a race to a chef that day, he seems to be still have a head for making the business everything that it needs to be.
The chef who interrupts the party to give a gift to Edo for being a good opponent, becomes friends with Edo. Antonio (chef) has a passion for food that seems to go unnoticed in the current place he is working. He wants to open a restaurant in the hills of Italy full of natural ingredients that are cultivated on the grounds. Edo thinks it is a marvelous idea and wants to invest in the restaurant. This is how Antonio and Emma meet. He cooks for several parties that they throw at the mansion. Emma enjoys to cook also and in fact that is the only time in the beginning half of the film that she seems to be happy.
After Emma finds out that her daughter has left her boyfriend and has become involved with a woman, she becomes curious. Maybe she could possibly break from convention and be able to love again. She starts this passionate affair with Antonio. She reveals her past life before she was married and that she cooks when she is homesick. She carries on this affair with him in secret from her son that she loves dearly.
Edo’s father, Tancredi, decides that he wants to sell the company in order to have a more international stake in the textiles industry. Edo is against this, but feels like he is trapped. He feels like it is his duty to go along with everything, but knows that is not what his grandfather ever wanted. When the family hosts the business people who are proposing to buy the company back in Italy, Antonio is entreated to make the meal. As a first course in his devotion to Emma, he makes Ukha. This dish was a symbol of Russia for Emma and a connection to her son Edo. Edo realizes that Emma is having an affair with Antonio and storms off. Edo and Emma fight in Russian poolside. When Edo has had enough, he turns around, trips, knocks his head on a stone and falls into the pool. He is rushed to he hospital but is pronounced dead. Emma is devastated.
She doesn’t talk to anyone and could only dress and be at the funeral with the help of her devoted servant, Ida. After the funeral, she knows that she has to revel all to her husband and her family. When she says that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore, he says something that sums up her situation perfectly: You are cut off. She is no longer in the family anymore, because she never really was.
This film is pretty perfect. Tilda Swinton stars as Emma or Kitesh (her real name). Her transformation from a devoted, yet cut off wife to someone who is alive isn’t just exhibited in the cutting of her hair. Her face changes, ever so subtly. At the beginning, you can see a hint of sadness, but her face is flush, full and vibrant. After she has the affair with Antonio, her face becomes more structured and eyes darker. My guess is that makeup had little to do with this transformation. It was more Tilda’s transformation into the character. She plays Emma with such restraint that when she finally bares her raw emotions at the end, it is even more startling.
The love affair is portrayed really well. Antonio is not an amazingly hot guy. He has a beard and crooked teeth. And yet the way he loves food and prepares food makes him this extremely attractive man. When Emma goes to his farm/restaurant for the first time, nature intrudes onto the screen in way that was not photographed previously in the film. She becomes a part of nature as she becomes a part of Antonio. One of my favorite scenes in this film is the second love scene. There is a sequence where Emma and Antonio work together on this farm, collecting food, manicuring the brush, hiking, preparing food, and finally cutting her hair. The sequence is wordless, but you can see the affection that they have for each other. This sequence leads to them making love in nature. The scene is a blur of flowers, bugs, and extreme close-ups of their skin touching. You can see the sweat on Antonio’s back and Emma’s stomach as Antonio caresses her. You can almost feel that passion that they are exhibiting for each other while you are watching the scene.
I Am Love is a wonderful film. You should probably see it.