A bigger splash

I think that A bigger splash is an excellent film. But even if it was not, I would still recommend that you see it. That is because of Ralph Fiennes. You’ve never seen him like that before. This is loosely based on a Jacques Deray 1969 classic French film La piscine (The swimming pool) starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet and Jane Birkin. A bigger splash stars Tilda Swinton as Marianne Lane, a rock star recovering from a throat operation. Marianne Lane is a female David Bowie and Swinton’s transformation is effective. Marianne has to rest her voice and she and her partner, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) are hiding from media scrutiny on a gorgeous Mediterranean island. They get disrupted when Harry (Fiennes), Marianne’s former lover and record producer, come for a visit. We can tell that this does not please Paul and although he keeps quiet about it, the atmosphere is tense. As if that wasn’t enough, Harry brings his newly discovered daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson). From the moment we see her, we can tell that she’s trouble. There is certainly sexual tension between her and Paul. And that does not go unnoticed by Marianne. Actually, there is sexual vibes between them all, even the two men and the father and daughter. If it was only for this cast, I would say that it was worth your money. But what makes even better, is director Luca Guadagnino’s willingness to let the tensions stir the pot. There is not much of a story. But Guadagnino let things simmer until it is too late and violence erupt. And this cast is perfection. Schoenaerts is never better than when he plays men who are about to blow up. Dakota Johnson’s is disturbing. But this is done without using tricks. Johnson never smiles and we can’t see any emotions. Just a cold blank stare. Seems that the starting point for all that tension is Marianne’s forced silence. Even though Marianne says very little, Swinton eyes says it all, and it’s with those eyes that Marianne says she loves you. And Ralph Fiennes. Harry is a loud, motor mouth. if the other characters don’t speak much, it is maybe because Harry never stop talking. But this no–holds–barred performance is priceless. When he’s not jumping in the pool naked ( yes, frontal nudity), Harry plays old vinyl record and dance and sings and goes crazy. I hope they remember Ralph Fiennes at Oscar time.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

A bigger splash

Directed by:

Luca Guadagnino

Screenplay by:

David Kajganich

Based on a short by Alain Page

Starring:

Tilda Swinton

Ralph Fiennes

Matthias Schoenaerts

Tilda Swinton

124 min.

Rated 14A

In English and Italian with English subtitles.

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