Film Review: A Bigger Splash (USA, 2016)

Directed by Luca GuadagninoA Bigger Splash is an erotic thriller that sees rockstar-on-leave Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) idyllic life with her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) on an isolated Italian island threaten to implode when Lane’s former-producer (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson) make an unexpected visit. The story here is actually based on an older Italian-French film from 1968 called La Piscine and while some of the major plot-points are shared between the two films, A Bigger Splash cleverly reframes more of the story around Marianne.

The history and relationships between the four leads really is the focus of the film moreso than any greater narrative hook, and you’re never quite sure which way the film is going to shake out. There’s a palatable tension that emerges between Paul, Penelope, Marianne and Harry and the small cast lends an almost fable-like quality to the things.

Fiennes’ Harry is a fascinating extroverted force here, clashing with each and every member of the cast. Marianne acts as a fascinating parallel to this, with Swinton leveraging Marianne’s scarred vocal chords to deliver a silent but highly-emotive performance through mostly body language and facial expressions.

Guadagnino’s direction here is nothing if not stylish – pulling the action between the the glossy surrealism of the Marianne’s past and the hyper-naturalism of her present. Similarly, the Alain Page and David Kajganic-penned script does a great job of pitting Fiennes and Schoenaerts’ characters against one another.

A Bigger Splash is a stylish and at-times Gatsby-esque tragedy about love, art and four very damaged people. It’s a film that’s sure to end up on quite a few best-of lists by year’s end and not to be missed.


A Bigger Splash releases on the 24th of March 2016.


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