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A Bigger Splash (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 124 minutes.

Not for children.

This is not a movie that will appeal to everyone. It is a stylish, atmospheric tale of a rock singer Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), her boyfriend, Paul de Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts), her former lover, Harry Hawkes (Ralph Feinnes), and his daughter, Penelope Lannier (Dakota Johnson). Marianne is recuperating on the Italian volcanic island of Pantelleria with Paul when her old record producer and boyfriend, Harry, shows up out of the blue with his daughter, Penelope.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino from a screenplay by David Kajganich, based on both an original screenplay by Alain Page and Pageís novel, La Piscine, and based on the film of the same name (1969, starring Alain Delon and Romy Schneider) which was directed by New Wave mainstay Jacques Deray, what really stands out is the exceptional cinematography by Yorick Le Saux which buttresses the fine acting by all four principals.

The two main criticisms I have of the film are that it is too long and the fact that Marianne is apparently suffering from a granuloma on her vocal cords. This is never spelled out, but she is on complete voice rest and cannot speak. The problem I have with this is I suffered from the identical problem twice a few decades ago (the same thing that ended Julie Andrews singing career; we had the same doctor at vastly different times; he wanted to operate on both of us; I declined and she didnít which was not a good idea), so I know a thing or two about it. In the movie Marianne is able to whisper but I was told by my doctor who helped to cure me (a different one, actually a Ph.D., not a medical doctor) that whispering irritates your vocal cords as much as speaking. I guess they had to allow Marianne to communicate some way, and whispering is something that most people unfamiliar with vocal granulomas would think okay.

I think that Guadagnino did a brilliant job of directing this, because even though it is a lot of talk, there is an underlying tension constantly onscreen that the characters are cascading towards something bad. Particularly effective is Johnson who creates an extremely disturbing femme fatale.

The film is overloaded with nudity, both male and female, including frontal. Unfortunately for some, however, not much of it is very sexy. While Tilden is a fine actress, sheís a long way from being a sex symbol. Johnson, however, is another matter entirely.

Youíve got to be in the mood for this, but if you are in the mood, itís an enjoyable trip.

 

 

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