I Am Love is an Italian romantic drama set in Milan around the year 2000. The film follows the wealthy Recchi family, who are textile manufacturers. Tilda Swinton’s Emma Recchi married into the family but is originally from Russia. She misses home greatly and often makes a Russian soup, ukha, for her son Edoardo. This soup recurs throughout the film as a symbol and trajectory of Emma’s relationship with her son and his friend Antonio, a chef who beats Edoardo in a race and subsequently gets involved with the Recchis.
The film begins with a family dinner hosted by Emma and her husband Tancredi, where Edoardo Senior plans to retire from the business and hand it over to his successor. The family is surprised when he names both Tancredi and Edoardo Junior. Antonio shows up with a cake as a consolation prize for Edoardo for the race, and this is where he meets Emma. Over the course of the film, Emma and Antonio’s relationship flourishes in unexpected ways. Meanwhile, Emma is trying to be a good mother to Edoardo and her daughter Elisabetta, who has been concealing her true identity from her family, whose wealth she seems to quietly tolerate – yet also reap the benefits of.
The film’s soundtrack, using pre-existing compositions by John Adams, is as much a part of the story as the rich imagery and dialogue. Conversations are sparse in this movie, and thus, all the more impactful. Here is a selection of memorable quotes from I Am Love.
- Elisabetta Recchi: “Being part of a couple is as nice as being alone. We must decide whether we’re brave. They’re the lyrics of a song a friend played for me.”
- Gregorio Sanfelice: “No one beats a Recchi.”
- Edoardo Recchi Senior: “My dear friends, I don’t want to die. And I won’t, as long as the business carries on in the same spirit with which I created it. Our family’s fortune is built on the factory. Every brick, every man, every piece of material is living proof of what we have been. We have engraved our name in our country’s history when, both during the war and after it, we were able to tend to its needs through the uninterrupted activity of our factory. The company was born Recchi, and Recchi it will remain forever.”
- Edoardo Recchi Senior: “It will take two men to replace me.”
- Elisabetta Recchi: “Edo, I can only talk to you about this. It’s only you who loves me as I am. I’ve been with a girl … I don’t know if I’ll see her again, but it was very beautiful. But it isn’t her I’m in love with. I love Angharad. I don’t know what she thinks of me, or if she even likes girls, but so what? Today I managed to make her laugh.”
- Edoardo Recchi Junior: “I’m having a party at my place, for Eva’s birthday. I want to ask her to marry me … Well? No reaction?”
Antonio Biscaglia: “Congratulations.”
Edoardo Recchi Junior: “Show some enthusiasm! I’m getting married!”
- Emma Recchi: “When I came to Milan, I stopped being Russian. There was too much of everything, in the streets, in the shops. I had to learn to be Italian.”
- Emma Recchi: “If I got homesick, I cooked. One day I made a soup my grandmother had taught me. Ukha. Edoardo, who was six then, liked it so much that he just kept on asking me to make it. Edo loves the Russia that I carry around inside myself.”
- Edoardo Recchi Junior: “No, you mustn’t thank me. I did it out of selfishness. I feel better knowing you’re happy.”
Elisabetta Recchi: “Happy? Happy is a word you don’t say because it makes you sad.”
- Shai Kubelkian: “No, [I don’t speak Russian], but I do read Russian. Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy. No one hated women more, though.”
- Shai Kubelkian: “… the world is growing and it has to be changed. All one has to do is alter one’s way of viewing it. Take war, for example – it can lead to development. If the wealth it produces here is then directed to the lands it destroys here, capital is democracy.”
- Emma Recchi: “You don’t know me anymore.”
- Tancredi Recchi: “You don’t exist.”