A Bigger Splash

"Excellent"

A Bigger Splash Review


Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) reteams with Tilda Swinton for this fresh, tricky drama about four people whose lives are inextricably intertwined. A remake of the 1969 French classic La Piscine, it's a twisted story packed with insinuation: fast, funny and surprising. The actors infuse each scene with a spark of lusty intrigue, while Guadagnino makes everything look gorgeous.

It's set on an isolated island off the coast of Italy, where rock goddess Marianne (Swinton) has gone to recover from vocal chord surgery, so she can only speak in a whisper. She's accompanied by her long-time younger boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), and as they relax naked together in the sunshine their idyll is invaded by Marianne's hyperactive ex and Paul's old friend Harry (Ralph Fiennes), who proceeds to strip off and cavort around the pool, as if he was invited. He brings along his moody daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson), who immediately begins to flirt with Paul. It's clear that Harry wants Marianne back after all these years, so there's some real tension quietly gurgling up between these four very different people.

Each of the actors gives a remarkably open-handed performance. Swinton and Schoenaerts are enjoyably evasive, firm in their feelings for each other and united against this onslaught. Johnson is terrific as the surly outsider who conceals her agenda to everyone except the movie audience. By contrast, Fiennes is hysterically talkative, never sitting still as he pushes everyone's buttons with his strong opinions and riotous actions. It's the film's flashiest performance, and it's utterly magnetic. And all of the actors are wonderful at suggesting things about their characters' inner motivations that perhaps they don't want to admit to themselves. Yes, this is a story about the deepest elements of being human, animal instincts that can cause problems in the modern world if we forget that they're part of what makes us alive.

The parched setting adds to this primal theme with its beautiful coastline, cooling pools and historic village. And as events spiral out of control, the film grapples meaningfully with fundamental emotions like love and jealousy. But it's also about people who are still longing for something they once had but lost. And about the fear of losing what they have right now. None of this is obvious, but Guadagnino lets these ideas infuse every scene in complex and understated ways that are both entertaining and provocative. So in the end, what this clever film has to say about the delicate balance between compassion and cruelty leaves us with a lot to chew on.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for A Bigger Splash:



A Bigger Splash

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 124 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th May 2016

Production compaines: StudioCanal

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Producer: , Luca Guadagnino

Starring: as Penelope Lanier, as Harry Hawkes, as Marianne Lane, as Paul De Smedt, as Mireille, Corrado Guzzanti as Maresciallo Carabinieri, Lily McMenamy as Sylvie, Elena Bucci as Clara

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