Repression is an inherent and essential component of most dramas. In order for there to be any dramatic tension created the audience has to feel the characters are holding back something they really want. Glengary Glen Ross, for example, is driven by characters who are holding in their desire to really tell their boss what a little prick he is, which is what makes Jack Lemmon’s monologue at the end where he does just that to Kevin Spacey so cathartic. Look at any drama and you’ll find characters who are holding back.
That’s especially true in romantic dramas, where the repression usually takes the form of one character feeling like he, or usually she, is part of a passionless marriage or relationship. So the movie is often setup in a way that we get a sense of how bad the situation is for that character before then following her on a journey of throwing off the shackles of that repression.
That’s very much the case with I Am Love. The movie is a romantic melodrama set in 1950’s Milan and features Tilda Swinton as a Russian emigre who moves there with her husband, who now owns the family textile business. But while being indoctrinated to the family way of doing things she meets a friend of her son’s, a young chef who awakens – through food, a favorite movie metaphor for the sensual – the passion within her. As the two begin a love affair the long-standing walls around the family she’s married in to crumble.
A wonderfully artistic one-sheet, the design clearly highlights Swinton as she’s the only member of the cast who doesn’t have her face obscured by the over-sized and flourish-filled title treatment. The rest of the family stands around her in a very stilted and formal portrait, with the uncomfortable feeling only accentuated by the fact that they’re standing in a very elegant room, the kind you’d find in an old-world castle or other mansion of the sort. It certainly makes an impression, showing that the movie is about stilted emotions and how the person who’s going to break out of that mold will impact the lives of everyone around her.
The trailer starts off by clearly setting up for the audience where the movie’s conflict is going to come from. Swinton’s character voice-overs how she moved to Italy and learned to become Italian, a move presumably made in some way because of her husband. At a dinner party the patriarch of the family stands and gives a toast to the unity of his family, a unity that has given it its longevity. But then a flirtation begins between Swinton and the cook in her house, a flirtation that eventually becomes much more and which awakens the sensual desires within her. So there are lots of shots later on of her enjoying food, sniffing flowers or other activities all in a new and exciting way. But it’s clear her actions are going to have repercussions on those around her as everyone else seems to be going their own way as well and there are lots of furtive glances and turned heads.
The movie’s rather humble official website opens with the trailer playing automatically, which is alright since it’s well worth watching again. Below that is a synopsis and a list of the film’s Cast and Crew. There’s also a batch of Press quotes that can scrolled through, though there are not links to read the full review, which is unfortunate.
Above the trailer there are sections titled Theaters, which shows you where the movie is and will be playing in the near future, a Photo Gallery with a handful of stills and a Press Kit where you’ll find smaller versions of the stills as well as Production Notes and an actual Press Kit you can download as PDFs.
The site also features rather prominently a Facebook Fan Widget that allows you to “like” the profile right there on the site and a stream of updates from Twitter that talk about how much people are looking forward to the movie or have enjoyed it. The “Join the Conversation” link on that widget takes you to a Twitter search for the movie’s title and presumably this is a curated subset of those search results.
The film’s Facebook page has a steady stream of updates related to the movie’s publicity and news stories as well as the usual mix of marketing materials that have been released.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing that I’m aware of on either front.
Media and Publicity
A sizable chunk of the movie’s publicity has been centered around appearances it has made at various film festivals. That circuit started with 2009’s Toronto International Film Festival, where it not only generated plenty of good reviews but also was quickly acquired by Magnolia Pictures.
It then hit Sundance 2010, where it received many rave reviews and where the cast and crew, appropriately, discussed the movie over a lavish dinner party.
In addition to the buzz that’s resulted from those festival appearances there has been plenty of other press as well, not surprising for a movie this high-end and which has received this much positive word-of-mouth. Much of that focused, naturally, on Swinton who was profiled as an object of beauty (Style, 5/24/10), a talented minimalistic actor (NY Mag, 5/23/10) and part of a now three-movie-strong artistic partnership with director Luca Guadagnino (New York Times, 6/13/10).
While certainly not as extensive as something like Iron Man 2, the marketing campaign here is focused and elegant, befitting the movie it’s supporting. The poster and trailer both portray a high-class tale of one woman’s struggle to rekindle the passion in herself and all that is supported effectively by the press campaign that has generated positive buzz and sentiment around the film. Well done and executed pretty much across the board as there are no weak spots that can be pointed to. Even the lack of any advertising support isn’t a negative since that wasn’t going to be expected for a movie of this size and style and any campaign that would have been launched likely would have watered down the movie’s profile a bit.