With more than a drop of Visconti and Sirk in its veins, I Am Love fervently revels in overwrought romanticism. Luca Guadagnino’s film focuses on the wealthy Italian Recchi clan, whose lives are seemingly altered by the decision of aging patriarch Edoardo Sr. (Gabriele Ferzetti) to bequeath his industrial empire to not only son Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) but also, surprisingly, grandson Edoardo Jr. (Flavio Parenti). This decision implies a forthcoming power struggle and family fracturing that never quite materializes, since Guadagnino’s story is most interested in Tancredi’s Russian-born wife Emma (Tilda Swinton), who soon develops a taste for Jr.’s chef friend Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini). An early sequence of expressionistic cross-cutting between fashionable Emma walking the streets of Milan and upwards-angled shots of the city’s looming architectural structures establishes a suitably swoony operatic mood that peaks with a scene – shot in gorgeous, wordless close-ups – in which Emma’s senses (and heart) are aroused by her eating Antonio’s succulent prawns. Alas, writer/director Guadagnino doesn’t know when to quit, so thoroughly indulging in baroque aesthetic gestures (especially with regards to the intrusive, overcooked score) that the film becomes a flamboyant caricature of itself, most notably during an outdoors love scene between Emma and Antonio that’s inundated with so many ludicrous close-ups of lips on flesh, blooming flowers and swaying grass that the atmosphere of irrepressible passion curdles via excessive affectation. Compounding matters is that Emma’s attraction to Antonio – based as it is only on carnal impulses – isn’t really love at all but, rather, in-the-moment (and, specifically, in-the-movies) sexual desire. Though Swinton radiates regal intensity and desperation, the film’s portrait of love as an equally enlivening and destructive force comes by means of a phony third-act tragedy that reeks of clunky authorial manipulation. Ultimately, though, I Am Love’s failure is less one of contrived storytelling than merely pretentious style.