It is deep, rich, human. It is not about rich and poor, but about old and new. It is about the ancient war between tradition and feeling. For this role, Tilda Swinton learned to speak Italian with a Russian accent, as Tilda Swinton would, but her performance is nothing as trivial as a feat of learning. She evokes Emma as a woman who must have been waiting a long time for Antonio, whoever he would be.
This film's beginning is simply masterful. The cinematography! The composition! Music by John Adams! The use of architecture and interior decoration for characterization! And Tilda Swinton! But then the film descends into cheap and downright childish melodrama, ending unintentionally funny. Vain and hollow. And it started so promising...
in terms of cinematography, a visual feast replete with scenes of italian splendor and decadence. plotwise, little to offer. mostly a self-indulgent tale of wealthy white people who throw their insular lives slightly askew. could have been thirty minutes shorter and achieved its goal.
Though the italian cinematography and the soundtrack are incredible enough to make this movie memorable, I think I will remember it for Tilda Swinton effort to learn italian and russian just for the role of Emma. That ending was epic, but maybe a second watch will make me appreciate the whole movie a bit more.
There's plenty here that many won't like - the soundtrack, the melodrama, the ending etc. - but overall I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary texture of the piece. Both visually and thematically there is so much going on and Guadagnino combines a broad sumptuousness with moments of remarkable subtlety. Painfully beautiful, a film that looks back to the great Italian auteurs while being absolutely contemporary.
I like the impassioned extroversion of Italians, but most of the cast were unremarkable here. Not bad, not distracting, but they just felt 'there'. But then the filmmaking seemed to mostly come alive when it was following Tilda Swinton, and I suppose that's the essence of it: she's the outsider falling in/out of love with a place not hers. Which is why this film works. She's at once familiar and otherworldly.