JA: Penelope Worley just got back from a year abroad, doing a graduate degree in film in London – and not a moment too soon! I’ve missed her fabulous Food In Film guest posts, and this one is a doozy. As soon as I get back from my vacation I am renting this, making myself a big bowl of popcorn, and snuggling up with Daisy to watch this film!

PW: I Am Love (Il Sono L’Amore -2008) opens in the wondrous snowy beauty of Milan in winter starring Tilda Swinton, as Emma Recchi, the Russian transplanted matriarch of a wealthy textile industry family. When we first encounter Emma, she is preparing for a formal family dinner around Christmas time. The art of setting a table, preparing the space for which the feast will be presented is masterfully shown with great care and detail (down to the most divine green wine glasses) and their idea of birthday cake just has to be seen. But let’s talk menu because the food in this film is one of the stars!

First up is some eggplant with elderflower, as the film moves into spring. I wish I knew the spices, but I am already intrigued to do my own research. Next its another dinner party and I can’t tell you what they were making but Emma, her son Edo and his chef friend Antonio are making hors d’oeuvres in the kitchen with salmon mousse and a cooking blowtorch. Food here is a result of artistic creation, something to be appreciated as well as eaten. Next we have Leghorn-style cod in Antonio’s restaurant. Here’s where it gets interesting and Emma begins a love affair with her son’s friend.

It all began with a little food seduction. Antonio serves Emma marinated egg yolk, pea cream and zucchini flowers, prawns with ratatouille and a sweet and sour sauce with mixed fish and crunchy vegetables. The poor woman never stood a chance at resistance! And my is this scene seductive in multiple ways. The close up on that shrimp is mouth watering. I was actually jealous of Tilda about the food (although Antonio is pretty damn hot too)!

Next its summer in Sanremo and the film’s use of color comes alive in Emma’s popsicle orange dress. We see nature at its best complete with glimpses of growing raspberries.

Okay so its not just all about gorgeous food. Really this story explores the roles we find ourselves in, and the dilemma of choosing to be true to oneself over what society expects from us. Emma finds herself being forced to examine her own life now that her children are grown and living their own lives.

As a photographer and budding documentarian, I am a lover of the “visual feast” Leave it to the Italians, specifically, director Luca Guadagnino, to deliver. I Am Love is filled with sumptuous beauty, real seasons, and yes, Italian cuisine so temptingly delicious you don’t know if you should eat it, take a photo of it or run to Italy (I vote for all 3)! Food in this film becomes the medium with which people communicate and in doing so reveal their innermost feelings. It’s a gesture to show love, acceptance, passion, family and gratitude. And for added flavor, a little Russian cuisine is in the film as well – a soup called “Ukha”.  If you’re not accustomed to watching foreign films – I assure you the subtitles in this film are not daunting, and the ending is gripping so you might want to have a box of tissue near by. Enjoy!

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