Battle of “Global Capitalism” vs. “Art & Love”, through the story of a middle aged housewife Emma. The article, “I Am Love as political melodrama”, talks about how in older melodrama Hollywood movies, mostly had the same recipe. The “Bourgeois family structure”, the focus of melodramas, as it is with this movie, Emma’s wealthy family is the “Bourgeois”, then a conflict occurs, between the upper-class and free lower-class. The article talks about how melodramas deconstruct mainstream idealism, which is what happens in this film. The mainstream ideal is, that Emma, is in a wealthy family, with healthy children, therefore, she should be happy. The movie opposes this ideal by showing that Emma is not actually happy. Viewers sense this from the life-less Emma in the first half of the movie, she gets dressed by her maid, and has no career; her sole objective is to be a wife and a mother. A perfect scene that iterates this is, while her son Edoardo is having a party, she is cooped up in a room with her maid; she is not “allowed” to have fun.
The Codes of Gender documentary describes how women are depicted as submissive, provocative, unbalanced, and childish. This movie depicts Emma in this stereotypical way as well, in her relationship with her husband, clearly he is in charge. He took her from her family in Russia, changed her name and her identity, turning her into an Italian wife and mother. This is exemplified, when she says “I learned to be Italian”. In addition, Antonio, is also in charge in a sense. He makes the first move between the two, as shown when he kisses her from behind while they are in his garden. She is always going to him, throughout the movie, you never see Antonio coming to her, creating a sense that she needs him, more than he needs her. This reinforces traditional stereotypes of how the male is always in charge, and is the dominate one in a relationship. In terms of gender role, the article “Night to His Day”, talks about how “we are uncomfortable until we have successfully placed the other person in a gender status”. This is why Emma tolerated her marriage for that many years, because she thought that, since she is a woman that it is her gender duty, to solely be a wife and a mother, nothing else.
Emma does not tell anyone when she discovers Elisabetta is homosexual, she knows that her capitalistic family would not understand as it frowned upon by the capitalist society. Yet, Emma accepts her and respects her for “being free”, something Emma wants to do, which is why she asks for her approval, near the end of the movie. In this sense, a stereotype is broken away from, how a romantic movie is usually driven by the male’s decisions, whereas in this movie, it is driven by the female’s, which is what the director wanted to present. Furthermore, it is an older woman who runs away with a male, which is a taboo in society.
In the second half of the movie, Emma finally breaks away, from her capitalistic family. Viewers sensed this as camera angles got faster and colors changed from colorful to dark. The Melodrama article talks about how this, usually indicates when the conflict will occur in most melodrama movies. In an interview, the actress playing Emma says that she thought of her character, as a dog, who finds a bone and goes chasing after it. Emma needed an escape, and Antonio was the perfect person for it. Antonio is the opposite of Emma’s family, of private, very capitalist minded people, he is a chef (food in Italy is often how one describes his artistic side), lives in the wilderness, and does not care about money. He is the perfect person, to combat against capitalism.
At the end of the movie, Emma and Antonio are in a dark cave, with shadows. To most viewers, this seems like a happy ending, however, if you look through the lens, like Zizek, you would think differently. A cave with dark shadows symbolizes falseness & fantasy, in Plato’s famous allegory. Which means that their relationship may not be true love, that it will eventually fizzle out, but the director cut the movie off before showing that, to please viewers. Similar to how Zizek says if Leonardo in Titanic survived, their relationship would have likely ended when they both got back to New York.