By Adam Ray Palmer
This review is the first of its kind on Cineroom. Thanks to StudioCanal sending me an early copy of A Bigger Splash, I decided to re-analyse our 5th best film of 2015.
A Bigger Splash stars four delightful screen stars including Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts. Luca Guadagnino is in the director’s chair.
So before its release on Monday, I wanted to explore what made it a 2015 highlight…
A Bigger Splash focuses on the lives of a high profile couple, a famous rock star and a filmmaker (Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts), vacationing and recovering on the idyllic sun-drenched and remote Italian island of Pantelleria are disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter (Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson) - creating a whirlwind of jealousy, passion and, ultimately, danger for everyone involved.
Luca’s film is split into two acts, which is pretty usual to be fair. We normally spend half a film establishing who the leads are and what motivates them, and the second half following what unravels into the climax. However, what’s different with A Bigger Splash is ‘how’ the two acts are separated. The first act is character-driven as we learn all about the four protagonists over-powering personalities. Then, an hour in, the second act flips the movie on its head and it becomes plot-driven.
There is one ‘killer’ scene that changes everything. The first hour is comedic but has an underlying edginess. That edgy tone comes to fruition when a character meets their demise. Luca Guadagnino’s picture then has another agenda, he shares his political views through the final sequences with the immigration ‘bashing’. A Bigger Splash is a very intelligent movie, and Luca’s best since I Am Love in 2009.
The performances are everything here. Tilda and Matthias have interesting roles with her character not speaking a word for the duration and Schoenaerts being a recovering addict. They both offer different layers to the film that are only ever so slightly explored, it makes the film more intriguing.
However, it’s Fiennes and Johnson’s characters that steal the show. Dakota is manipulative, sassy and flirtatious. Her relationship with her father (Ralph) is a little odd but it’s the way she acts as the antagonist in the story, she is the spoon in the stirring pot. Fiennes is on another level. He makes every sequence his own. The dancing scene is spectacular when he grooves to a Rolling Stones track as he mimes straight to camera. Fiennes is witty, jealous and calculating.
Luca has delivered a masterful movie. The casting is spot on, the direction is effortlessly fluid, the narrative is addictive and the performances are riveting. If there is one DVD you need to get next week, hell, this month; it’s A Bigger Splash.
Cineroom’s Rating: 5 Stars
A Bigger Splash is out DVD this Monday (27th June) – certificate 15.