Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Indie Review: A Bigger Splash (2016)
'A Bigger Splash' Is A Truly Soaking Experience
Well somebody turn on the A/C because this movie was HOT...in more ways than one.
A Bigger Splash follows the story of a glam rock singer named Marianne (Tilda Swinton) who is recovering from vocal surgery while on vacation with her filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schonaerts). However, their peaceful getaway is disrupted by the sudden arrival of her ex-flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson).
I'll jump right into the actors. Tilda Swinton is reliably good as Marianne and even though she doesn't speak for much of the movie, she is still able to act with her eyes to demonstrate how Marianne is constantly evaluating her options in terms of the men in her life. After having very little to do in The Danish Girl, it was nice to see Matthias Schonaerts doing a film like this. While his character may not be as fully fleshed out as the others, he is still able to slowly flesh out subtle layers of neurosis and darkness. Dakota Johnson was a real surprise as the Lolita-esque Penelope, using her youthful appearance and soft voice as a seduction tool. She also has subtle comedic timing and I think she should make a home there when she's not involved in Fifty Shades.
But the real show stopper is without a doubt Ralph Fiennes. While his co-stars are just as great, Fiennes is always just..ON! He's a constant ball of energy that lights up every scene he's in. In fact, because his character is so lovelorn, he channels that into a demonic fury.
Next, I'll get into the direction by Luca Guadagnino. The way he constructs the film makes it seem like it is set in an Eden-esque paradise with how the characters engage in a game of seduction in a sunny, nature-filled background. We even get scenes of a symbolic snake entering the scenery.
The cinematography by Yorick Le Saux is quite stunning. Some of my favorite scenes are the ones shot in daytime where the sunny backdrop compliments and eventually contradicts the events that occur. There are even slow close-ups on the actors' faces that provide shades of 60's or 70's cinema where the cinematographer would do something similar.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge the editing by Walter Fasano. Even though the film is about 2 hours long, he makes it go by quickly and despite the film being mostly about people indulging in conversation and leisure, it has a very caffeinated feel.
Overall, A Bigger Splash is a stunning throwback to classic cinema that manages to be both entertaining and cinephilic. It's extremely well-acted, well-directed, beautifully shot, and even though I can't pronounce the name of the island the film is set in, I want to vacation there! So much to love about this movie!