I am Love

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

i am love

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!


The above fore-mentioned. said...

Your book arrived today!!! So beautiful.

hila said...

yay!! I hope your sister likes it too :)

P R I M O E Z A said...

i also enjoyed this film, and now reading your review of it (and i'm also waiting for my book in the mail).

andrea despot said...

you're writing is beautiful, and i found it was everything i was thinking when i saw this film! i too thought it would be riddled with cliches, thinking "oh here we go again..." but the affair did seem so natural, as more an affair of herself. and the fact that everything she once was, was erased, that was just heartbreaking. and though the ending is immeasurably sad and surprising, it made me happy because she actually got away, which rarely happens in these kinds of stories.

Mariella said...

as usual Hila your reviews make me think...and this one in particular since it's about the idea of home and our identity...now I really want to watch this movie...

Molly said...

I just added this movie to my Netflix queue! I am looking forward to watching it with your review in mind. Also, it looks like it is beautifully filmed, based on the movie stills you provided. With my "home" ever changing due to my husband's career, I think this movie will mean a lot :)

Emily Vanessa said...

You always find the loveliest images from films. I adored this film from the moment it started but have to say I hadn't thought of it as related to home. I interpreted it much more in terms of the senses; the snow falling, his hands caressing her, the food of course so now I'm really keen to watch it again.

Aldrin said...


Olga said...

Thank you for the review. I will definitely see it. I'm really curious about how Tilda Swinton interpreted a Russian character. I really like your descriptions - they communicate real feelings.

Ringo, have a banana! said...

I heard that Tilda painstakingly learned not only to speak the Italian and Russian required of her, but to speak Italian with a flawless Russian accent for the role. Such an amazing woman, such an incredible film.

tywo said...

May God continue to be with Japan. I pray and hope everything gets better soon.
All my love.


RamblingTart said...

I loved this movie too, so very, very much. I rarely watch parts of movies over again, but I had to with this one. Like you wrote so beautifully, it was not so much about food and sex as about US, about finding out who we are and the glorious joy and freedom that being real brings. Thanks for bringing back good memories of a wonderful story. :-)

Tana said...

great review Hila! want to rewatch it! merci ^^

Caitlin Rose said...

hmm, after reading this review I think I like the movie a bit more. I just had seen so many movies where women needed men in order so some how escape their lives, or find themselves that I was hoping she wouldn't have an affair. But your analysis gives credit to the film.

Felix Curds said...

your movie reviews are amongst the few that I actually enjoy reading haha;) I might just have to watch this. the screen shots look pretty and I dooo love tilda swilton!

MadeinMari said...

Não gostei dessa atriz em Narnia, mais eu tô querendo muito ver esse filme. (L

Tracey said...

Yet another eloquent and insightful movie review Hila. A lot of people told me that this film was a little 'odd' (I haven't seen it myself yet), but based on your thoughts I think it sounds particularly intriguing. I will be adding this to my must watch list too ... thanks to both you and Galit! :)

skeletaldreams said...

The cinematography looks so amazing in this film. A lovely review!

Libby, Vintage Aplomb said...

you write so beautifully! i had never heard of this film before, but i just discovered that i can watch it instantly on netflix, which i may just do today as i am stuck in bed ill. thank you for visiting my blog, and yes, you did read my profile correctly. this is my first year as a middle school librarian, and i'm really enjoying it!

Christine said...

I really liked this film, the elements of sensuality and Tilda Swinton always does such a beautiful job in films that involve exploring that hidden part of her character. I love the images you chose as well.

naomemandeflores said...

Beautifully written. It's always a pleasure to come here and read your posts and reviews. This movie has been on my "to see" list for a long time. I have to watch it now.

Camila F.

Blue Fruit said...

oh wow, you do have the most amazing gift of putting words together so that they just "speak" to the reader.

I better track down this film, it sounds beautiful, and like a journey of self discovery both for the character and probably for the viewer too!

Principia said...

I've just seen this the other day, it's superb. Definitely got me thinking about home and identity.. And I do feel sorry for Eva. The whole family is pretty intimidating..

odessa said...

oh..i loved this movie too! the cinematography + musical score was perfect. and i agree with everything that you said about the idea of home. in a way, she really did lose her sense of home and identity all those years living as "emma". i really love the ending, it created such a powerful visual dialogue for me.

oktooca said...

yup, i loved this film, though not in the way i thought i would!

hila said...

thanks for the comments guys, glad you liked the review!

primoeza: I hope you like the book!

andrea: thanks! and I agree, it was a surprising and sad ending.

mariella, molly, olga, ramblingtart, tana, madeinmari, skeletaldreams, christine, camila and blue fruit: a big thank you!

caitlin rose: yeah, I know what you mean, but funnily enough, I'm not sure this is the primary focus of the film, so I sort of "forgave" the affair.

felix curds: oh thanks! I sometimes wonder how helpful or informative they actually are though.

emily vanessa: It was a deeply sensual film, so I can see how you approached it this way.

aldrin: I thought your analysis of the film was spot on!

ringo, have a banana: yes, she is so incredible, and so good at everything she does.

tywo: me too, it's just awful.

tracey: I didn't find it odd at all, it's just a very self-conscious sort of film.

libby: that's such a great job, to be surrounded by books all day :)

principia: I didn't like eva, I hope that doesn't make me mean :) I sort of found her too prosaic and focused on money and practicality all the time. That sort of characterisation tends to be insipid. But I do feel sorry for her at the end.

odessa: I agree, the ending was so well done.

oktooca: me too :)