I've always wanted to visit Italy, but never more than after watching Luca Guadagnino's "I Am Love." Everything from the beautiful scenery to the food to the clothing was striking. I felt like I was peeking into an aspect of the country I would probably never experience: the posh lifestyle of a family steeped in old money and culture.
At the core of this film is the story of the Recchi family, a wealthy bunch whose successful textile business is about to be handed down from the patriarch to both his son and grandson. As he puts it, "It will take two men to replace me." Oh Grandpa, your self-importance will do you no good after you pass! Because against his dying wishes the company is sold to someone outside of the family and the tight knit group begins to fray. It is hard not to see this unraveling as punishment for a life of entitlement, but I don't think it is Guadagnino's intent to comment on this at all. His tale is much more focused on relationships, in particular those of newly found love.
There is son Edo's relationship with a woman everyone knows he will marry, daughter Betta's new found passion for a female professor, and finally there is Emma Recchi and the chef. Tilda Swinton is marvelous as the Russian-born wife who can entertain, speak three languages and look great doing it. Though she seems content living this life, it is not until Antonio enters the picture that she realizes she has given up herself in pursuit of a perfect Italian existence. Is this an inevitable affair brought on by upper-crust boredom or a liberating relationship based her most basic needs of food and love? It matters not really because after Emma eats at his restaurant, it's all over. The prawn sealed the deal.
This movie is so well acted and visually intriguing that the unbelievable ending is really just the icing on the proverbial cake. This is one of the best films I saw in 2010 and left me wanting more out of all I consume in 2011, be it movies or meals.