Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - WEEK IN MOVIES -

Di­rec­tor: Luca Guadagnino ( I am Love) Star­ring: Tilda Swin­ton, Ralph Fi­ennes, Matthias Schoe­naerts, Dakota John­son Ver­dict: Ev­ery­one pools their weight

CEL­E­BRAT­ING lav­ish in­dul­gence and of­fer­ing com­plete es­cape is a tricky combo for a movie to pull off.

Luck­ily for the sub­lime new melo­drama A Big­ger Splash, its di­rec­tor knows ex­actly when to live it up, or leave while the go­ing is good.

Ital­ian film­maker Luca Guadagnino dis­played the same re­fined judg­ment with his ac­claimed pre­vi­ous work I am Love ( a no­table art­house hit in Aus­tralia), and uses it again to cap­ti­vat­ing ef­fect here.

It doesn’t ex­actly hurt A Big­ger Splash’s prospects that Guadagnino has called once more on the con­sid­er­able tal­ents of his I am Love lead­ing lady Tilda Swin­ton.

She plays Mar­i­anne, a vet­eran rock star who could be likened to a fe­male equiv­a­lent of the late David Bowie.

Hav­ing re­cently un­der­gone ca­reer- sav­ing throat surgery, Mar­i­anne must send three months in si­lence to en­sure her fa­mous voice re­turns to full power. A move to en­joy the time off in idyl­lic peace and quiet on a sun- drenched is­land with her boyfriend Paul ( Matthias Schoe­naerts) is rudely headed off at the pass by the sud­den ar­rival of two uninvited guests. Harry ( Ralph Fi­ennes) used to be Mar­i­anne’s pro­ducer of choice. And be­fore Paul, her long- time live- in lover. Now he is back and craftily look­ing for a way back into Mar­i­anne’s af­fec­tions, with a re­cently dis­cov­ered lon­glost daugh­ter, Pene­lope ( Dakota John­son), in tow.

The un­com­fort­able en­ergy which ebbs and flows be­tween this quar­tet is any­thing but un­com­fort­able to wit­ness as a viewer.

Ev­ery­one in­volved in this tale is both a straight talker and a bent thinker, re­sult­ing in an ad­dic­tively un­pre­dictable blend of dis­arm­ingly di­rect con­ver­sa­tions and oddly dys­func­tional be­hav­iour.

Per­for­mances from all four leads are right on song from start to fin­ish – par­tic­u­larly Swin­ton and Fi­ennes, who revel in the sur­real spark shared by their char­ac­ters – and al­low Guadagnino to cheek­ily get away with a du­bi­ous fi­nal act.

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