The second review on day five from the #Venezia72 is Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash. This production is in competition here but faces great opposition with The Danish Girl.
A Bigger Splash stars the English rose Tilda Swinton, the great Dane Matthias Schoenaerts, the English gent Ralph Fiennes and the US beauty Dakota Johnson.
This picture will be hoping it won't sink at the worldwide box office. It has certainly has made a splash here in Venice…
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.
This movie has it all. Sex scenes, amusing dance moves, great dialogue and sweeping picturesque shots. The only thing left to check off that list is the acting – and that can have four big ticks! The four central protagonists all provide inspiring performances. Ralph Fiennes is uproarious in his role as the eccentric British music producer Harry. One specific scene is when he dances to a Rolling Stones track for a couple of minutes – it’s glorious. His character Harry takes such irrepressible pleasure from life’s every moment and it’s annoyingly great.
Tilda Swinton is compelling in her role as the silent rockstar Marianne Lane. She's silent by the way because her character recently had a voice operation. Tilda told me today that this idea came about because she would only sign on to do this project if she didn’t say a word. Her silence is perfect with her elegant gaze and model-esque features. It made her role much harder to do without dialogue but she completely glues you to the screen – a masterful performance.
The same can be said for the blossoming acting gem Dakota Johnson. Her character is the most difficult to play I believe as it is multi-layered. Dakota is engrossing and refreshing in her role. I haven’t seen her play a character this difficult or this good. It is a career best performance for her.
The Danish Matthias Schoenaerts is becoming a billboard model round the Venice Film Festival. He also stars in the incredible The Danish Girl. He is charming in both his roles but also very mysterious in this production. His character has a varied past with problems but you never get a definitive answer of what and why. His character is the most intriguing.
Deray’s minimalist “Swimming Pool” provides the context to extrapolate ‘A Bigger Splash’ and it becomes a case study in the director’s style. The pool references are designed to enhance the tension and reveal scars in the characters’ personalities. Guadagnino allows a large amount of nudity, male and female alike, as Ralph and Dakota go full-frontal with Tilda not far behind.
Guadagnino directs this film in a different way to most. He shoots their bodies rather than their personalities which is a very difficult process. It’s so impressive that he can tell a story just by a few shots of the characters’ body language. This is very demanding on the stars and his style really pushes the cast to hit their full potential.
As the film begins to climax, there are a few ‘immigrant’ references and even the larger plot line reveal is pinned on the refugees. Could this be yet another way to interpret the film’s title: as bigger concerns are consuming Sicily and the world at large? How very timely of this highly-charged and rousing piece.
Cineroom's Rating: 5 Stars
A Bigger Splash is set for a worldwide release in 2016. Certificate TBC.