Monday, 6 June 2016
Movie Review: A Bigger Splash (2015)
Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is an established music star recovering from vocal chord surgery. Only able to talk in a whisper, Marianne has retreated to the rustic Italian island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) a documentary filmmaker and recovering alcoholic who attempted suicide a while back.
Their idyllic time away is interrupted when Marianne's former lover Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his grown daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) invite themselves to share the same house. Harry is a gregarious, larger than life music producer who was Marianne's partner for many years, and he actually introduced her to Paul. Now he may want to reclaim her love while preying on Paul's vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, Penelope oozes sexuality and proceeds to quietly stir the pot as well.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, loosely inspired by 1969's La Piscine and financed by Italian film credit money, A Bigger Splash cannot quite shake the vague sense of a few stars gathering for a Mediterranean vacation and filming for convenience. Comprehensively too long at over two hours, the David Kajganich screenplay struggles to find content once the characters are set. There is a solid hour of time to kill between the initial introductions and the final act, and that middle segments drags with barely a pulse.
And when the emotions erupt into the open, the film takes a sudden leap from subdued to wild. Instead of arguments there is violence, and the film disintegrates into a half-baked investigation followed by a sloppy wrap-up. The four central performances are all excellent and maintain a basic level of interest, but the good acting alone does not paper over the structural weaknesses.
For all its tedious pretensions, A Bigger Splash is actually a smaller plonk.
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