I’m glad I Am Love (Io Sono L’Amore) was an Italian film subtitled in English. (I Am Love is the Food ‘n Flix feature film for June, hosted by Evelyne at CulturEatz. You can see her announcement post here.) Otherwise, I don’t know that I would have watched it in it’s entirety. Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautiful film, but I don’t think I could have made it through if the film had been, let’s say, set in New York with an American-aristocratic old-money family. (Sounds like an Edith Wharton novel.)
I Am Love (Io Sono L’Amore) thankfully had that whole foreign film mystique-thing working in its favor.
The Italian language, scenery, fashion, and food was the film for me.
(I am jumping into my perspective of the film. If you haven’t seen the film and would like a plot summary, click here.)
Tilda Swinton (Emma) is always luminescent but she is even more so as the Russian born wife of a wealthy Italian textile magnate. She was glowing throughout the film and not just in the food porn prawn scene or the other literal sex scenes.
The youngest daughter, Betta, is played by Alba Rohrwacher. Similarities can certainly be drawn between Rohrwacher’s physical beauty and Swinton’s. When I first saw the film, I was convinced that she must be Swinton’s actual daughter. (Swinton’s real daughter actually did have a few appearances in some of the brief flashbacks, playing Emma during her childhood in Russia.)
A plot parallel develops concerning both the mother and daughter’s awakenings. Betta confides in her mother that she is in love with her female art instructor. Emma, of course, is finding herself in a young chef. In the final scene, Betta and her mother share a knowing look, an acknowledgement that each knows the other’s secrets, triumphs, hardships and joys in their respective found loves.
Marisa Berenson plays the family’s matriarch, Rori (short for Allegra) in a cool, classic Italian sort of way.
Ida, Emma’s maid, is a bit stereotypical as the dutiful servant but Emma reaches out to her many times during the film, to sit with her, to eat with her, and it is Ida that assists in Emma’s escape.
The characterization of these women are shown in bits and pieces. Allegra gifts art work to perspective wives soon to join the Recchi clan. There are clues of Emma’s childhood in Russia, short snippets that hint at something perhaps innocent, something perhaps sinister. We never know Emma’s real name; she just tells Antonio that Emma is not her given name. Betta is interesting to watch as she explores her art and her sexuality.
The women are more interesting than the men in this film.
Edoardo Sr. is the firm and stern aging patriarch of the family who seems to rule with an iron fist. No one would dare contradict him.
Tancredi, the son that is soon to take over the business, doesn’t even seem one-dimensional.
Edoardo, or Edo, is the ill-fated idealistic son. His idealism is juxtaposed with his stereotypical rich-kid lifestyle.
Antonio is the outsider, the every-man, the person who must work for a living. Other than his dream of opening a restaurant on family land in the hill country (and his lust for Emma), we know little about him.
Definitely, the women were more intriguing.
Since Antonio is a chef and his occupation is what brings him to the attention of the Recchi family (that and his friendship/rivalry with Edo), there is much food in the film. Some of it was quite confusing to pin down. There were lots of fresh herbs and produce, either in the Recchi’s well-staffed kitchen or outside of Antonio’s restaurant.
I thought I saw Ida unwrapping a Pannetone, or was that the cake that Antonio brought to Edoardo ‘s birthday celebration?
I think there was also a bowl of very fresh looking pomegranates in the center of one of the tables in the lavish Recchi home.
Then there were these dishes:
- A dish of eggplant and elder flowers
- Russian Salad or Insalata-russa
- Ukha, a clear Russian seafood broth
- Leghorn-style cod
- Marinated Egg Yolk, Pea Cream and Zucchini Flowers
- Prawns with Ratatouille and Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Mixed Fish with Crunchy Vegetables
- Spelt Soup
- Chinnotto. an Italian soft drink
And of course there’s this scene when all the chemistry starts:
One review/critique of the film said Antonio was showing Emma how to char the Insalata Russa. (That makes no sense to me whatsoever.) Another said that he was torching the top of a Bonne Bouche.
Either way, this scene gave me pause and was my inspiration. I did both. (Sans flaming the insalata.)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, diced
½ c. sweet peas (frozen)
2 t. apple cider vinegar
½ c. mayonnaise
½ c. sour cream
Salt and Pepper
1 t. fresh dill, chopped
Hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into quarter wedges
Cook the potatoes in boiling water 7-10 minutes or until tender but still firm. Remove from cooking water. Steam carrots and peas (5-7 minutes). Let all veggies cool to room temperature. Combine veggies and toss with the vinegar. Sit aside.
Combine cooled veggies with mayo and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and dill. Lightly toss salad.
Place servings of salad in small single-serving bowls and top with an egg wedge and chopped pickles. More dill may be sprinkled on top.
I certainly could have put a shrimp on top for a nice summer salad meal. I will, however, never look at a prawn the same again.
The addition of the dill in this salad makes all the difference; otherwise, I am afraid it would have been a bit humdrum. I really like how this came together and it is a perfect alternative to a regular potato salad. I think this salad will make an appearance at our Fourth of July celebration.
Yes, I did do both this Insalata Russa and that mysterious torched Bonne Bouche. (Who knows what they were torching in this film, I mean, besides each other.) 🙂 But, I have decided to post my Bonne Bouche cheese plate later.
Total aside but did anyone else pick up on the Hitchcock-esque music as Emma stalks Antonio through the streets of Sanremo?
For all my down-to-the-wire FnF posts, click here. If you are more organized than I, please plan ahead and join us for the July film, Popeye, hosted by The Lawyer’s Cookbook. If you are really organized, plan on viewing Hotel Transylvania 2 for August (hosted at Coffee and Casseroles). I must also put in a plug for the September film, Frida. September also marks a paired event with Cook the Books and the novel, The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Haghenbeck. Plan accordingly.