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On Io Sono L’Amore

The Seattle Film Festival started last week, and this is the first of six movies I signed up for. Six! It wasn’t all that great. From the trailer, you might think it was a fairly classy affair, and luxury is certainly a focal point of the movie. You might also guess the sex to be a fairly tawdry affair – but hey, it stars Tilda Swinton and she’s great, so how bad can it be? Well, Swinton does the hungry love thing pretty damn well, and if you feel like plunking down $10 dollars for some of that, and more – Swinton eating lunch, Swinton walking the streets of Milan, Swinton in orange pants, Swinton in the buff – this is your movie.

You should also expect a lot of inexplicable cinematography: extremely close and unfocused shots of pavement, long distance shots in which 90% of the frame is taken up by a tree in the foreground, shots of characters’ backs while they’re speaking. I’m tempted to say that this was all planned as a kind of cinematic dramatization of chaos, or the disorganization inherent in life, or something like that. This isn’t in every scene, of course; every once in a while the chaos of lazy camerawork and lousy editing is punctuated by some beautiful compositions (most of them involve food) but this only makes the chaotic editing of the other shots all the more inexplicable.

The story itself is pretty standard: wealthy, restless matron takes up with her son’s friend, which leads to a family crisis. This son’s friend is a chef, who prepares some pretty tastly looking treats along the way. Swinton’s character has a thing or two to teach him … some of it involving food. All this is goosed along by an-over-the-top John Adams score that punches the melodrama into a crisis near the end that borders on a kind of bizarre and violent mystical experience. I Am Love is intended to reveal love as crazy and essentially Dionysian; that ultimately we have no control over where our desires will lead, that beauty is terrifying, that the best and bravest among us follow our hedonist hearts to whatever end awaits us. Io Sono L’Amore, you can exclaim, if you are lucky, because after all, l’amore è un dio, and if that’s true, well, then, maybe Io sono un Dio, since that position seems to have been vacant for quite some time now. Why not? Life is crazy, after all. Except when it’s dull. The editing of long dinner scenes at the beginning of the movie helps portray family life as boring in the extreme, while the rapid cuts in scenes of illicit love reinforce the idea that it all just happens so fast. Unfortunately, most of it comes off as just plain sloppy – quite in contrast, I thought, to the many plates of food in the movie that are so exquisitely presented. I left hungry.

Comments

  1. Jonathan Webb says:

    Sounds like an Oscar nominee. Thanks Quin.

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