Tilda Swinton owns this extraordinary visual and emotional achievement of a film. Set in Milan, London and San Remo, light and shade are used to create a story of depth and substance.
In Italian with English subtitles (and sometimes in Russian and English), the story centres around Swinton, the wife of a rich Milanese man. The atmosphere is drawn richly with the sets, down to the tableware and napkins setting a scene of class distinction worthy of any Merchant/Ivory collaboration.
Grandpa Recchi is handing over the reins of his company. Swinton plays Emma, the wife of Tancredi, in a role played well by Pippo Delbono. Tancredi and Emma live an elegant life in a wonderful home. Yet, an edge is there from the beginning. The gorgeous dresses Jil Sander made for the film emphasise the changing wishes of Emma, as the film develops. John Adams’ music adds to the slow build of drama.
Edoardo Gabbrielini plays Antonio, an excellent chef befriended by Emma and Tancredi’s son, Edoardo, in a fantastic performance from Flavio Parenti. Marisa Berenson, as the older Recchi wife – isn’t she too youg for that? – and Alba Rohrwacher, as Edoardo’s sister Elisabetta, also bring outstanding performances to their pivotal roles.
I don’t want to spoil the plot, but there are twists and turns which stunned the audience at the Stratford Picture House. It’s nearly two hours long, but the time whizzed past. Luca Guadagnino wrote and directed and brings an artist’s view to the proceedings. This means that the whole film feels like it has visual coherence as well as a great script and a gentle shift from scene to scene, like you are being moved through a fabulous exhibition. Even the food looks almost too good to eat.
I like a good story that is told well, scripted intelligently and with warmth and looks good. If that’s not enough for you, this film has absolutely the best sex scenes I have seen in any movie for years and years. I think “Coming Home” was the last time sex looked this passionate and fun, on screen. It’s actually genuinely erotic. Why do so few directors manage that?