In I Am Love ( Io Sono L’amore ), Tilda Swinton shines as a woman come unraveled. She initially plays her role as the monarch of a tightly functioning rich Italian family muted and subdued but becomes increasingly, and uncontrollably, rapturous, as she tiptoes into an affair with a young, passionate chef.
The culmination of the two lovers’ chase ends on a gorgeous Italian hillside, in a sex scene so beautiful and idyllic it verges on ridiculous. The camera flits back and forth between scenic panoramas, insects pollinating, and the two lovers going at it in the grass. It could have come off as too much, but it doesn’t thanks to very deliberate closeups of Tilda Swinton’s body-ones that highlight a spurt of hair on her nipple or red bumps on the side of her butt cheek. The almost shocking image of seeing imperfections on a woman during a cinematic sex scene is enough to render the scene absolutely real and touching rather than overwrought like a passage from a grocery store romance novel.
Leaving marks and body hair in the final cut is obviously highly unusual (I can’t think of another movie that does it.) But it does do something to make the scene more relatable, and by extension, immersive, as opposed to the oh-so-fake presentations of sex we get from most movies (you know, woman with perfectly coiffed hair eliciting manufactured orgasm noise after approximately three pumps).
And, of course, seeing blemishes on the big screen is admittedly enjoyable in the crass "Celebrities! They’re Just Like Us!" sense.
Photograph of Tilda Swinton by Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment.