A Bigger Splash: Film Review
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts
Director: Luca Guadagnino
There's nothing worse than a gatecrasher.
And in I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino's latest, a remake of the French 1969 thriller La Piscine, even though the gate-crasher is a tremendous Ralph Fiennes, the after effects of this arrival fail to really lift the so-called sexual thriller.
Swinton is Marianne Lane, a Bowie-esque rock singer, who's recuperating from throat surgery that's rendered her all but mute. While she's factored in some serious R&R with her current beau, Paul (a wearied and disconnected Schoenaerts), the peace is rudely shattered by the arrival of Lane's former manager and one time lover Harry (Fiennes), who shows with his newly-discovered daughter Penny (50 Shades of Grey's Dakota Johnson) in tow.
And it's not just the fragile peace that's ripped asunder with this visit, as old feelings between Lane and Harry simmer away; coupled with the Lolita-esque trappings of Penny as she eyes up Paul, nothing will ever be the same again.
It may be beautifully shot and evocatively dressed in the Italian countryside but Gaudagnino's latest is nothing more than an arthouse snooze-fest that does little to indulge the brain as much as it does to indulge the senses.
It's fair to say that were it not for Fiennes' overly boisterous and frequently hilarious (not to mention constantly naked) performance, A Bigger Splash would fall considerably flatter than it does.
Fiennes breathes life into the relative caricature of the man whose dancing to the Rolling Stones' Emotional Rescue proves that he does indeed have the moves like Jagger - albeit on the dad front. But Fiennes brings a positively lustrous and infectious energy to the screen that's missing when he's not there.
Swinton's a degree of class, giving her relatively mute songstress a sophistication that's needed and she manages to do so much with so little; equally, Johnson proves to have some cinematic balls giving her Penny the dangerous edge of flirtation that comes so often on holiday.
Unfortunately, Schoenaerts has neither the lustre or life to bring anything to the table as the damaged Paul - even in flashbacks, where Swinton's character comes alive, he brings hardly anything to the table, which ensures the denouement of this so called Dangerous Liaisons piece is lacking the emotional intensity which is required to ignite the powderkeg that's supposed to have been smouldering.
Instead, it's a damp fizzer of a film, that wallows wilfully and indulgently in its arthouse trappings and rarely rises above its jealousy soaked aspirations.