Despite the glorious summer heat, the Castro Theatre was filled to capacity on Sunday afternoon for the San Francisco International Film (SFIFF) screening of the Italian movie, I Am Love. The SFIFF staffer who introduced the movie let us know that almost all 1,400 seats were filled. She also let us know that the film’s star Tilda Swinton wanted to attend but was in Connecticut filming another movie. Darn!

Swinton plays the trophy wife of a Milanese captain of industry whose well appointed life unravels when she begins a steamy affair with her son’s friend. The Festival requested that reviews of the movie be held, but Tilda Swinton almost always justifies the price of admission for any movie. There are moments in the movie where she looks impossibly elegant, the very personification of graceful privilege.

Then there are other moments where she looks like a giant giraffe embryo with her translucent membrane-like skin and fluttery white eyelashes. The sedate pace of the movie mirrors the rarefied existence of the monied class in the first half, then builds to a shattering crescendo once passion enters the picture. The ending left me a little breathless.

Unfortunately Sunday’s screening was the SFIFF’s only showing of I Am Love, so you’ll have to wait to see the film when it’s more widely released.

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