It’s a film and the “Io” in question is Emma, a woman in her late 40s with a grown up family. Love brought her to Milan from Russia many years previously to marry Tancredi Recchi, a wealthy industrialist, although it was perhaps his family that she ended up married to.
Wealth and the Recchi family, in particular the mother-in-law, have isolated Emma from real life, the life she thought she was headed for, and by the time we meet her she has morphed into the stylish, sophisticated ornament she is expected to be.
Cossetted and isolated by wealth, Emma lives only for her children and seems to have nothing else in life; no interests, no friends, no personal ambitions and certainly no freedom. She almost envies her daughter who finds fulfilment, love and freedom in a homosexual relationship with her teacher. This initially shared secret between mother and daughter seems to be the only aspect of life that is not owned and controlled by the Recchi dynasty.
Then Antonio appears on the scene. He is a friend of her son Eduardo’s, and the two young men are on the verge of going into business together. Emma however falls for Antonio. It’s an instant attraction, unsolicited by both. Emma finds release, fulfilment, pleasure, freedom and life in the arms of her young lover, all the things she had been denied for over twenty years in the stuffy atmosphere of the Recchi household.
The affair is conducted far from the Recchi home, in the hills of the Ligurian countryside, on the spot where Antonio and Edoardo hope to establish their restaurant, and of course the liaison is soon uncovered by the unsuspecting son, and with disastrous consequences.
It is love that first takes Emma from Russia to Milan. It came as a surprise and she was again to be surprised by love in the lush hillside in Liguria. It rescued her from life in Russia then from the oppression of life with Tancredi Recchi in Milan. She is blessed and betrayed by love, love that always seems to exact a high price and always seems to lead to disappointment and pain.
The style of the film is reminiscent of 1950s Italian cinema. It starts in black and white suggesting an era long gone which helps to accentuate the oddness of Emma’s life and the isolation she feels in her twenty first century situation.
Emma is the only character who can be properly referred to as “central” and Tilda Swinton was made for the part, but I come away wondering if Diana is maybe the inspiration behind the story line. Yes, that Diana.