I am Love is not a movie to be seen to pass the time, but a work of art, to be taken in and digested at leisure as you would a Picasso painting or a Shakespeare play.

If you believe there are movies and there are films, then you’d agree with me that I Am Love is the quintessential example of what a film should be.

I Am Love (which sounds sexier if you say it in Italian, Io sono l’amore) shows the awakening of a middle aged woman to love, and the dire consequences her following actions have on her family.

After twenty years of marriage, Emma, the Rusian wife to a wealthy Italian industrialist still feels like an outsider. We see her, as the movie starts, preparing her father in law’s birthday dinner to a stunning perfection. Then when the dinner is over and the guests leave the table to continue the celebration, Emma retires to her room. She’d rather be alone. But first she meets Antonio, her son’s friend and partner in his passion: cooking.

Emma and her husband do not fight or hate each other. They are just comfortable in an easy arrangement of companionship. This makes Emma’s awakening so much more surprising to herself and to the viewer for she didn’t know she was sleeping when Antonio enters her life.

Antonio is no dashing prince on a white horse. He is soft spoken, unassuming. He awakens her not with a kiss but with his soul he pours into the dishes he prepares for her. Once she tastes them, her passion is unleashed.

The film is stylistically stunning. The camera lovingly frames the family mansion, the streets and buildings in Milano and London and the Italian countryside, infusing them with a sensuality that matches the moods of the protagonist.

Because the film is also a portrait of a wealthy family, it reminded me of two Visconti films. The first, The Gatopardo (1963) is a poetic portrait of an aristocratic Sicilian family in 1860. The second one The Damned (Italian: La caduta degli dei

[literally, “The Fall of the Gods”]) (1969), follows a wealthy German family during the years of Hitler’s ascent. It holds a special significance for me as it was the movie that made me fall in love with films.

If I Am Love enters this exclusive realm of Art, it is in great measure due to Tilda Swinton’s performance. She fearless embodies the main character, filling the screen with her presence, a beautiful woman carved in ice, burning with fire.

Go to http://www.iamlovemovie.com/ to see the trailer.