A Bigger Splash
Starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson
Sometimes you just need a vacation from summer blockbusters and special effects. Rare is there a film that can offer sexy scenery and bodies combined with great performances and a compelling narrative. Yet, Italian film A Bigger Splash offers all that. Director Luca Guadagnino has worked with Oscar winner Swinton (Michael Clayton, Snowpiercer) many times, previously on I Am Love, as with his crew and cinematographer Yorick Le Saux. A Bigger Splash is many things: comedy, romance, drama, thriller and mystery. It’s most important label might be that of most seductive film of the summer. It’s a cinematic getaway for the mature viewer or cinephile. Unpredictable for those who hate obvious plot lines. And visually stimulating for anyone with a pulse.
International rock star Marianne Lane (Swinton) has canceled all upcoming shows to rest her vocal chords which have just been operated on. She and her young boyfriend Paul (Schoenaerts) are vacationing away from the noise and fame, off the coast of Sicily in Pantelleria Island, until she recovers. Their nude sunbathing and love making days by the pool come to an abrupt halt when Marianne’s manager and former lover Harry Hawkes fly’s in unexpectedly with his newly discovered daughter Penelope (Johnson). It was motor mouth Harry, who wants to bed every attractive thing he sees, who pushed Paul towards Marianne following their split. “I fall in love with every pretty thing,” the tempting Penelope says in a quiet moment with the bronzed Paul. The foursome manage all kinds of mischief until things take a turn for the worst.
Most seductive film of the summer. A cinematic getaway and visually stimulating for anyone with a pulse.
Swinton is known for her obscure roles and this is certainly no different as she is almost completely silent through the film. Of course that doesn’t hamper her performance, Swinton only amplifies what she can do with body language. Swinton isn’t the only one trying something new, Fieness (Harry Potter, The Grand Budapest Hotel), the typically brooding and stoic actor will not shut up. Whether he is expressing himself through dance, having conversations in the buff or trying to woo back his lost love, it’s a groundbreaking performance from the versatile thespian. Swinton isn’t typically someone you associate with terms like beautiful, sultry or stunning, but she is all those things and more here. In one scene between Marianne and Harry against pastel colored buildings during golden hour lighting, we are treated to close-ups of Swinton and sensational makeup.
For all the talking, bare bodies, and swimming pool drama it’s Schoenaerts’ restrained performance, the quietest of the group, that speaks the loudest. Marianne is the “star” but Paul is the sun that the other characters rotate around. He is the least fashionable of the group (the costume design by Dior for Swinton is breathtaking), yet when on screen, he demands all the attention, even when he isn’t doing anything (although in his performance he is always doing something). The film is continuously aware of it’s delicious surroundings thanks to Yorick Le Saux’s very inviting camera work. The score (not original) is borrowed from Italian films of yesteryear, giving it the feel of a Fellini picture. The film deliberately withholds vital information from the viewer, which will drive some audiences mad. Often it stays with certain lackluster scenes too long (karaoke, Harry’s dancing) but the editing keeps the viewer engaged by showing us everything in a room, transporting us to this wonderful location and manic but seductive people.
A sensually seductive cinematic vacation for the viewer.