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“I Am Love” (Io sono l’amore), screening this week at Mesa Public Library, is tragic in the old-school, highly personal sense of the word, almost Shakespearean with sensual but forbidden love and sudden, horrifying death all tangled in a gritty knot.
I’m talking high drama, with deep stares, meaningful prawns and powerful families on the brink of either triumph or destruction.
Luca Guadagnino’s award-winning film begins on Grandfather Recchi’s birthday, the day he announces who will inherit the family business as his successor.
It is also, rather significantly, the day his grandson Edoardo (Flavio Parenti) loses a race to the handsome, generous, cake-baking Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini).
Tilda Swinton plays Emma Recchi, daughter of the head of the Recchi family. She comes across as an elegant, wealthy wife and a quiet, exceedingly thoughtful mother.
Her children, Edoardo, Elizabetta (Alba Rohrwacher) and Gianluca (Mattia Zaccaro) adore and trust her — especially Elizabetta.
Emma’s husband Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) seems far less engaged in his children’s inner lives, or his wife’s, for that matter.
However, to be fair, viewers can’t see beyond the time frame of the movie, during which he is quite understandably preoccupied.
In addition to being a tragedy, “I Am Love” offers heady romance, accentuated by some beautiful but very intimate camera work.
There are lots of close-ups of well-lit food (is food love?), flowers, insects and bare skin that is normally covered by undergarments.
The nude scenes are not merely suggestive so much as languorous: the camera lingers, completely without shame.
Whatever love is, it is certainly not shame.
“I Am Love” (rated R, Italian with English subtitles) screens at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library, as part of the library’s Free Film Series, which currently features foreign films.
The series is made possible by Friends of Mesa Public Library.
For more information, call the library at 662-8240.