A Bigger Splash
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.