Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I don't think I can begin this post without mentioning the awful tragedy in Japan. While I've read many posts on how we can help, this post seems to list some very useful links and resources. Thanks to Miss Moss for linking to it. I don't really think there are words for such sadness, so all I can do is send my love.
I also contributed to a small project run by Natalie Ruth, based on a love of mornings. This is such a sweet project, thanks for inviting me to participate Natalie. Galit asked me to review the film, I am Love a few weeks ago, and as promised, here's my review.
I think I was expecting a totally different film to what I actually saw. I loved this film, but not for the reasons I thought I would. I am Love is about the life of the matriarch of a wealthy Milanese family, Emma (Tilda Swinton), whose world of perfect order and propriety dissolves in the sensuality of an affair with a chef. It's not like we haven't seen this kind of film before, and to be honest, I was expecting a cliché-ridden movie. I also thought it would be an outrageous sort of film, one where sex and food dominate as a dramatic contrast. While Emma's ordered life is contrasted with the boundlessness of her affair, it is done in such a subdued and raw manner, that it feels overwhelmingly natural.
There are a lot of reviews on this film, but for me, they didn't really touch upon what is at the heart of this film, which in my opinion, is the idea of home. Emma is a Russian émigré, who through marriage, has her entire past, name and sense of belonging erased. Emma is not even her real name, as she reveals to her lover, but rather one that her Italian husband gave her.
To me, this film is less about food, sex, or marriage, and more about how we discover and uncover ourselves through our sense of what home is. Do we belong somewhere because we are born there, grew up there, have a family there? Or can we create a place in the world for ourselves based on our sense of individuality? Some of the most striking scenes in the film that precipitate Emma's affair are coupled with her feelings of nostalgia, homesickness and longing for Russia. This includes her love of cooking which she associates with her home country.
I know I quote Gail Jones a lot on this blog, but I'm sorry, you're going to hear her quoted again. I can't help it if everything she writes seems so appropriate to the films I watch. Over and over again, all I could think as I was watching Emma strip away her formality to her lover, were these lines from Gail Jones' Dreams of Speaking:
Alice wanted silence. She wanted the nullity of deep space. In her bed in Paris, she experienced a twinge of homesickness. Not the longing for a place, so much, as a space into which her self could be poured, without erasure.
-Gail Jones, Dreams of Speaking, London: Harvill Secker, p. 41.
This is precisely what Emma seeks through food, sensuality and her lover: a space in which her self can be poured and uncovered, without erasure. Her husband erased her, like her original name. Her lover suggests a hidden world where such an erasure is not necessary to belong. To me, this is the grand love story of the film: the affair she has with herself.
Thank you Galit, for suggesting I see this film, I loved it in every possible way. Feel free to suggest films to me anytime!