I have a finished knitting project to share with you which I had planned to get it photographed so I could show it to you today, except that yesterday slipped away before I knew it, at least until there was no chance of having enough light for photographs. Not that the light was ever good as it was a snowy white day with the kind of flat gray light that seems to emphasize the closeness and stillness, mashing everything together into seemingly a single plane.
I couldn't complain however as we only got about 14 inches out of a predicted 24 inches of snow, or that it was all over by late morning. I was out by noon shoveling out the walk and the paths to the propane tanks and to the fill valve for the oil tanks. While I was out, I heard the town plows going by and figured I had better walk up the hill to check as we had been plowed out long before and the town plows tend to leave a considerable pile of slushy icy mess across the end of our driveway. Good thing I did too, as there was a knee high wall of mixed snow and ice blocking our access to the road and I would have been very upset I had I waited to try to break up that icy mess today, after it had a chance to solidify overnight.
90 minutes after I went out I came in rosy cheeked and rather exhausted, ready to curl up on the sofa with a movie. And this is where that big fancy high definition television and sound system I got G for Christmas really paid off. I watched I Am Love, a movie I had missed catching in a cinema and worried about seeing at home, but I have to say that spending the afternoon curled up on the sofa with my sweetie, a fire, and this stunning movie was a real treat. In fact the movie was so stunning that neither one of was eager to pause the play to fetch more soda or any of that stuff, although we certainly could have done so.
Of course I had read about the movie several places, from anticipatory articles before it was release to reviews, both pro and con, to various bloggers' reports, but still I think I was unprepared for the power of the cinematography of this film. In fact the film is not so much for plot or even traditional character development and yet it is a visually profound film. So much was conveyed through use of the lens: history, the power and almost stultifying weight of culture and tradition, art, emotion, and yes love and life. There were snippets of flowers and grass and insect life buzzing about seeming unrelated to the world of architecture and wealth with which it was interspersed, immediately dividing the world into that which is lived versus that which is endured, or, as I mentioned above, of love, emotion, and art versus civilization, expectation, and tradition.
My thoughts concerning the film are still knotted up in an overwhelming muddle and I can't quite pull together a coherent review. My mind lights on bits and snippets, all of which reference the whole, but which I cannot yet piece together clearly, so I am afraid the disparate bits will have to suffice here.
Throughout the film the camerawork is truly incredible, and works very well with the score as well, creating the story as much through judicious lens work as through the actual acting. Two segments are particularly lush, creating scenes that are both sensual and sensuous, in fact deliberately playing with and blurring the lines between the two. One is a scene in a restaurant where the sense of the food through the focus of the lens plays up the pure emotional sense of it, without actually tasting it of course, bring out a palpable emotional awakening and savoring of experience that stands apart from the icy perfection that is much of the film before this. And of course this a pivotal point in the development of the leading character and a transformative point in the film which leads to another incredibly intense merging of photography and music and art, again blurring the lines between sensual and sensuous and creating one of the most compelling sex scenes I believe I have ever seen.
Of course the clothing is stunning. I think I first read about the film in Vogue, where of course they talked about the clothes, designed by Raf Simons of Jill Sander, but even early on one is very aware of how this movie uses images to define almost everything, far more than it uses words or action. The clothing and the setting define the characters, especially Tilda Swinton's character. Swinton's clothing in the opening scenes, spare and rich and extremely elegant, is extremely minimal: the perfect dress, the blouse and slacks, the perfect coat, the long strand of large pearls. The clothes convey not only wealth but also the constraints of wealth. Here we come back to that same paradigm of the architecture of wealth and class: the spare, almost architectural, perfect clothes, seen on a version of Swinton who is softened and contained with long elegant hair, usually perfectly coiffed, exactly as expected. But as the character changes, the clothing changes as well, although subtly at first, just as the fracture lines in this perfect life appear subtly at first, before they take on a momentum of their own, before Swinton, with shorn hair and ravaged by grief and emotion presents an entirely different kind of face.
I find it interesting the role of the shearing of hair in this film. The daughter cuts her hair when she discovers love, a lesbian love that will not be understood or accepted by her family. Emma cuts her hair when she finds love with Antonio and rediscovers and reveals her true self, the self that was cast aside when she married and became Italian, but not merely Italian but a part of a class and structure that is completely contained within itself.
I can't even write about the ending of this movie yet but the conclusion is so compelling and condemning on so many levels that I am still overwhelmed by it all. But shocking as I found it all, I also saw that it had been prefigured from the beginning in small comments and seemingly unimportant gestures, seducing the viewer in ways that perhaps life seduces us as well, allowing us to see what we want to see, and blinding us to the dangers.
I have to say I highly recommend this film although I also recognize that it would not have been nearly as intensely compelling without the big screen and the sound system. The music by Adams at times subtle and at times profound could easily be missed without excellent projection. The profoundly beautiful use of the macro lens and the cinematography in general would be lost if you couldn't almost wrap yourself in its pure visual feast.