Directed by Luca Guadagnino and screenplay by Guadagnino, Barbara Alberti, Ivan Cotroneo, and Walter Fasano from a story by Guadagnino, Io sono l’amore (I Am Love) is the story of an industrialist’s wife who begins an affair with a chef that would bring trouble to her family during a crucial period in their life and their future. The first film in a thematic trilogy on desire where a woman seeks to find love in her rich and aristocratic environment. Starring Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini, Alba Rohrwacher, Pippo Delbono, Maria Paiato, Diane Fleri, Waris Ahluwalia, Marisa Berenson, and Gabriele Ferzetti. Io sono l’amore is a ravishing and mesmerizing film from Luca Guadagnino.
The film is the story of an aristocratic family whose lives begin to change through some changing times relating to their textile business while its Russian-born wife falls for her son’s new friend in a chef. It is a film that play into this life of a family in Milan as they deal with their patriarch’s decision to retire and his choices for his successors as they deal with a new business world with his grandson introducing his family to a new friend whom his mother falls in love with. The film’s screenplay isn’t just this exploration of desire for one person but also the desire of a family just trying to find themselves as they embark on a new chapter. Notably as the film opens with a birthday dinner during the Christmas holidays for its patriarch in Edoardo Recchi Sr. (Gabriele Ferzetti) who announces his retirement from the textile business where he names his son Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) and grandson Edoardo Jr. (Flavio Parenti) as his successors as the latter brought in his new girlfriend Eva (Diane Fleri) while a man he lost to in a race in Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini) is a chef who came late to the party with a present for Edoardo Sr. where he is seen by Edoardo Jr.’s mother Emma (Tilda Swinton).
The film’s first act is about the dinner and Edoardo Jr. wanting to help Antonio create his own restaurant in his home near San Remo while there is family drama where Edoardo Jr.’s sister Elisabetta (Alba Rohrwacher) goes to London to study as she also has fallen in love with another woman and wanting to break-up with her boyfriend as it was discovered by Emma. The film’s second act that takes place months later where Emma goes to the restaurant run by Antonio’s father with Eva and her mother-in-law in Rori (Marisa Berenson) as Emma eats a plate by Antonio that she loves as she becomes fascinated with him where she later runs into him in San Remo where they begin their affair. The third act doesn’t just play into Emma and Antonio’s affair intensifying but with Edoardo Jr. dealing with the world of business as he becomes overwhelmed with his father’s decision and other things as it lead to some revelations for the family.
Guadagnino’s direction definitely has some stylistic compositions and such yet keeps the film grounded in its exploration of aristocracy in this family. Shot largely on location in Milan as well as San Remo and parts of London for a few scenes in the film’s third act. Guadagnino’s usage of tracking shots for the way characters walk into a room through the Recchi estate as well as close-ups and medium shots to play into the intimate moments in a room as Guadanino also uses wide shots to get a scope of the dining hall or the front lobby at the estate. The film also play into this struggle of tradition with the modern ethics of business as the former is something Edoardo Jr. wants to do as he learned a lot from his grandfather in understanding the business but also the workers so that they can maintain a sense of trust. Edoardo Jr. also wants to help out Antonio knowing how good he is as a chef but also as a way for Edoardo Jr. to make his own mark and prove that he can be a good businessman.
The scenes in the second act that include these sequences of Emma and Antonio longing for one another has this element of fantasy until they actually meet again as Guadagnino use the locations of San Remo as a character as this place that reminds Emma of her old life in Russia where she recounts how she met Tancredi. The film’s third act is about Edoardo Jr.’s resistance on what his father wants to do with the family business as it culminates with this dinner that has Antonio as the cook who creates a special dish that is a favorite of Edoardo Jr. as it leads to some revelations and chaos. Notably as it relates to these ideas of change in the whole family and their lifestyle with Emma also coming to terms with who she is and what she wants. Overall, Guadanino crafts a rapturous and entrancing film about a woman whose affair with a young chef would unknowingly create chaos within the world of her aristocratic family.
Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux does brilliant work with the film’s luscious cinematography with its naturalistic photography from the look of the snowy exterior in the film’s first scenes as well as what Milan looks like on a summer day to the usage of low-key and stylish lighting for some of the interior scenes at night. Editor Walter Fasano does excellent work with the editing with its stylish usage of transitional dissolves, jump-cuts, and other stylish cuts to play into some of the drama and this mixture of fantasy and reality. Production designer Francesca di Mottola and set decorator Monica Sironi do amazing work with the look of the Recchi family estate in its many rooms and interiors as well as Antonio’s own home and some of the exteriors at the estate which is actually the Villa Necchi Campiglio that is at the center of Milan. Costume designer Antonella Cannarozzi does fantastic work with the costumes from the stylish clothing that Emma and many of the women in the family wear including some of the casual look of Elisabetta in London as well as some of the designer suits the men wear.
Visual effects supervisor Stefano Marinoni does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it play into a few bits of fantasy including a brief flashback of Emma as a child. Sound editor/mixer Francesco Liotard does superb work with the sound as it does play into natural elements along with a few bits that play into the elements of fantasy. Music supervisor Jen Moss does incredible work in cultivating the music’s soundtrack that largely consists of classical pieces by John Adams that feature some unique orchestral piano bits as well as other lush music pieces while other contributions include a piece from Gustav Mahler as well as original pieces from editor/co-writer Walter Fasano with Nathalie Tanner, Elliot Smith, Tony Esposito, Arto Lindsay, and Marco Armani.
The casting by Jorgelina Depetris Pochintesta and Francesco Vedovati is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Honor Swinton Byrne in a brief bit as Emma as a child, Waris Ahluwalia as an Indian-American businessman who wants to by the Recchi family business, Maria Paiato as the Recchi family’s main housekeeper Ida whom the kids see as a second mother while is also someone very loyal to Emma, Diane Fleri as Edoardo Jr.’s new girlfriend Eva whom much of the family seem to neglect despite Edoardo Jr. and Emma welcoming her, Mattia Zaccaro as the youngest of the Recchi children in Gianluca who doesn’t do much with his family business as he’s still a student, Emanuele Cito Filomarino as Elisabetta’s boyfriend Gregorio whom she dumps for another woman, Marisa Berenson as the Recchi matriarch Allegra aka Rori who loves her lifestyle but also tries to distract herself from some of the chaotic elements of her family, and Gabriele Ferzetti in a superb small role as the Recchi matriarch Edoardo Sr. as an old man who is celebrating his birthday as well as make announcements for his retirement and the people who will succeed him.
Pippo Delbono is excellent as Tancredi Recchi as Edoardo Sr.’s son who is given the chance to succeed his father as he becomes concerned with the future while also having an idea of doing things that he knows his father and son wouldn’t approve. Alba Rohrwacher is fantastic as Elisabetta “Betta” Recchi as Emma’s daughter who is known for her drawing but is switching to photography where she studies in London and falls in love with another woman where she would guide her mother to follow her heart. Edoardo Gabbriellini is amazing as Antonio as a chef whom Edoardo Jr. befriended following a race that wants to create his own restaurant while he falls for Emma unaware of the chaos they create as he is a man that brings an air of simplicity that Emma had forgotten. Flavio Parenti is brilliant as Edoardo Jr. as Emma and Tancredi’s son who is also named as his grandfather’s successor where he tries to instill ideas into the business while wanting to maintain its integrity as he also deals with new things in his life such as a new friend and a new lover but also contends with the ways of a new world that overwhelms him.
Finally, there’s Tilda Swinton in a phenomenal performance as Emma Recchi as the Russian-born wife of Tancredi who falls for her son’s new friend as she becomes the centerpiece of this conflict between doing what she feels and doing what she needs to do for her family. It is a performance that has Swinton speaking Italian for the entirety of the film with a bit of Russian as she brings an air of radiance into her performance as someone that is in love with not just Antonio’s cooking but also what he offers in life instead of this aristocratic world that she’s in where she has to play a certain role that doesn’t really allow her to express herself only to find inspiration through two of her children instead of her husband.
Io sono l’amore is a magnificent film from Luca Guadagnino that features a tremendous leading performance from Tilda Swinton. Along with its ensemble cast, ravishing visuals, luscious locations, its theme of tradition vs. feeling and tradition vs. modernism, and its incredible music soundtrack. It is a film that doesn’t play into the conventions of a romantic drama as it is a study of a woman and her role in an aristocratic family. In the end, Io sono l’amore is a tremendous film from Luca Guadagnino.
Luca Guadagnino Films: (The Protagonists) - (Tilda Swinton: The Love Factory) - (Mundo civilzado) - (Cuoco contadino) - (Melissa P.) - (The Love Factory No. 3 Pippo Delbono - Bisogna morire) - (Bertolucci on Bertolucci) – A Bigger Splash - Call Me By Your Name - Suspiria (2018 film) - The Staggering Girl – (Fiori, Fiori, Fiori) – (Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams) – (We Are Who We Are (2020 TV series)) – Bones & All – (Challengers (2023 film))
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