True confession: I'm a bit obsessed with Tilda Swinton. Much is made about how her "otherworldly" features and unsettling characters set her apart from other leading actresses. She has the boldness and beauty of Cate Blanchet and Julian Moore, but her screen presence is a different breed of mesmerizing because it's often so uncomfortable. Unlike her contemporaries, there's something about her that seems not quite human, more animalistic and alien and a little bit frightening. For my money, she's always the best thing about every movie she's in.
I was inspired recently by the 2009 Italian film I Am Love, which is a significant departure from her more famous roles. A long-term passion project, Swinton co-produced the drama about a wealthy Milanese family, working with the director for nearly 10 years to get it made. According to IMDB, she learned both Italian AND Russian for the role, which is no small thing.
Lavish, atmospheric and overblown in all the right ways, it feels like those classic, important movies we're all supposed to know, but never get around to watching. Full to the gilded brim with family secrets, forbidden love, smoldering tension and eyefuls of stunning Italian scenery, this one is well worth the effort. Oh, and Tilda Swinton has never been more glamorous.
One of the pivotal scenes in the film is when Swinton's character is served a dish made by her son's business partner, with whom she quickly begins a steamy affair. It's a great example of how something as simple as sitting down to lunch can become a life-changing experience. This moment made such an impression that I felt compelled to interpret it in my own way.
The trailer still gives me the chills. Enjoy.