A BIGGER SPLASH
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.