Why do people fall in love with someone unique and then marry them and try to change them?
In Io Sono L’amore ( I am love ), Emma Recchi ( played by Tilda Swinton ) is a Russian woman who marries an Italian man from Milano, Tancredi Recchi, and moves to Italy with him. He’s rich – SUPER RICH – and they have a nice life, gorgeous villa, and beautiful accomplished children. She obviously loves her kids and things seem OK at first, although in the first scenes we see signs of trouble. At a birthday dinner for her husband’s father, Edoardo, the camera shows Emma’s first few expressions of fear, but fear of what? The announcement that her husband and her son Edo would together succeed Edoardo as head of the company is clearly not what she wanted to hear. And even though her children are grown, she’s still trying to protect them from a harsh father and grandfather. The Recchi family is kind of like a beautiful painting. From far away it looks perfect, but the closer you get, the more flaws you see. We see cracks, we see flaking, but we don’t see that the whole thing is about to fall apart.
That comes as a surprise. Even though I’d read the reviews and knew that Emma was going to have an affair, I still didn’t see it coming. I mean, I was still surprised when she started sleeping with Antonio, her son’s young friend. She didn’t seem to be the happiest person alive, but I still didn’t understand that she was the kind to do something like that.
But how could I? Not even her family had seen that she wasn’t who she was pretending to be for all those years. When Antonio asked her about being Russian, it was as if no one had acknowledged it for a very long time. She told him that she had married, moved to Italy, and become Italian. Her name wasn’t even Emma, her husband had given her that name and when Antonio asked her about her real name, she said that she couldn’t even remember what it was. Whether she was being truthful or ironic, it doesn’t matter, because in any case it was clear that she’d lost herself.
The biggest catastrophes are saved for the end, thrown at us in a big, messy punch in the gut. And no matter what really happened, Emma will always see it as a consequence of her actions instead of the accumulation of her family’s collective pain.
I kept wondering what it was about Antonio that Emma was attracted to and I’ve decided that it wasn’t him at all – it was just the love. She loves. She is love. And she’d grown weary of denying it.
Io Sono L’amore is gorgeous to look at, blurring the lines between reality and daydream with romantic imagery. It’s a little disjointed, and maybe that was intended but it made me anxious and at sometimes unsure of what was happening.
Overall it is wonderful – extra credit goes to Tilda Swinton for speaking in Italian with a Russian accent. I can’t even speak in Italian with an Italian accent.
PS – I Am Love is also available now on Time Warner Cable – pay per view