True love, or just a bored house wife?
I Am Love, the Italian movie, the classical love story with a twist.
Your traditional love story, low income girl, gets married to super rich guy. Girl discovers that this is not the life she wanted, she wants more out of life, she made the mistake of selecting money over happiness. She finds a free spirited man, this guy loves life in general, and sweeps her off her feet, and the two fall in love, and escape away together. Living, presumably, happily ever after. This movie depicts that very same story, the only difference is that the woman in this story, is much older, (guessing that she is probably in her late 40’s, early 50’s), and the free spirited guy, is much younger. I believe the director did this on purpose, to present the classical love story, in another fashion, similar to how Quentin Tarantino depicted his take on western movies, with Django Unchained.
We have seen this love story a million times
This movie actually has a lot of messages to digest. This movie is a melodrama, the director attacks the idea of having the perfect “nuclear” family, and how this will lead to true happiness. Emma (the wife) has 2 sons and 1 daughter, all in their mid to late 20’s. Thus, she has been married to her husband for a substantial amount of time. She describes her being happy in her early stages of being married, but as time went on, she literally has all passion sucked out of her. In the beginning of the movie, you can really tell that she lived for family, everything she did was for them. This is understandable as this is normal in Italy, the mother’s main purpose in life, is to be a mother. Even the movie style in the beginning of the movie, depicted this. The camera cuts were much longer, and the movie seemed very flat, the soundtrack was very calm, and regular. I believe the director made the first half of the movie dull on purpose, to let viewers experience how life-less Emma was during the beginning of the movie. As events started escalating, one after the other, camera cuts were much faster, soundtrack was faster, more edgy, the colors in the settings were all dark and black (compared to being really colorful in the first half). You could tell, something was about to happen. Just look at the first dinner scene, all colorful, whole family is happy, then compare that to the final dinner, all dark grey, everyone is depressed (even the family business was being sold off).
Her name was even given to her, by her husband, and a lot of times, she was even dressed by her maid (she barely did anything, everything was given to her). One could understand how boring life would be like, if everything was just given to you. She was supposed to be happy, she has beautiful, healthy children, and her family is very wealthy. Modernists would describe this situation as the “American Dream”. What more can you want? Yet, the director presented to viewers, that this nuclear family ideology, does not always lead to happiness.
Is this really happiness?
She falls in love with a chef, very symbolic, in terms of Italian culture, since food is very important in that country, so Emma essentially fell in love with Antonio, at first, due to his cooking. Antonio lets Emma be herself, even telling her that her real name, is beautiful (whereas her husband gave her, her name). She falls in love with Antonio, because she is almost “set free” when she is with him. She has children, but I think, that she believes that she has sacrificed enough of her life for her children, and that they are old enough to take care of themselves now. Which is why she leaves her family, to run off with Antonio. You can tell that she still loves her children, firstly, by the fact that she was the one most devastated by her sons death (Edoardo). Secondly, when she is about to leave, she looks at her daughter, she does not say anything, but the viewers can understand the conversation between the two, just through their facial expressions. Emma was basically asking her daughters permission to leave with Antonio, asking for her “blessing” or approval in a sense. The daughter agreed with her mom’s decision, and allowed her to go. Emma truly looks up to her daughter because she came out about being a lesbian, she presented her true self, and Emma looked up to her for doing so, as Emma wanted to express her true self as well. Thus, Emma and Antonio run off together.
The last scene, shows them making love in a cave, with dark shadows. This is interesting, as Plato (Greek Philosopher), describes this symbol, as something that is “false”, “fantasy”, not true. Thus, I believe that the director leaves viewers with the thought, that maybe this was not true love after all, maybe it was all just a fantasy. Maybe, Emma was just bored, and really needed some excitement, and Antonio was a fun and exciting guy. This is all up to the viewers interpretation. In my opinion, I believe that she truly was bored, and that she does not actually love Antonio, she just loves the idea of being “free” when she is with him. You can replace Antonio with any free-spirited guy, and she would fall for him. However, I do believe that the way she was living life, was not sustainable, soon or later she had to “come out”. Her life had no passion, so I support her reasoning to leave her family. Her children were old enough, and her relationship with her husband was almost non-existent during the entire movie.
Plato’s famous “allegory of the cave” symbol