MOVIE REVIEW: A Bigger Splash

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: David Kajganich (screenplay), Alain Page (story)
Stars: Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton

Drama about a Rock singer who is recovering from an operation on her vocal cords which is stopping her from singing or speaking.  She is living with her film making boyfriend on an island when an old friend and flame comes to stay with his newly discovered daughter.  This force of nature upsets the gentle rhythm of life that the couple has.

It was hard for me to score this film, as there are a lot of moments that I genuinely loved, and would happily sit there and watch time and time again, even going so far to say that I would pay my own cash to sit through this again.  If I were just writing reviews for myself to read, some strange way to make sense of why I go to the cinema as much as I do, I would rate this higher in the marks section.  But I love movies so much I do what we all do with things we love so much, we pick holes in it and place it under the largest microscope that we can find, when you truly love something the smallest thing that should be able to overlook becomes the one thing you can’t fail to notice.

Cast wise this is just brilliant, with one exception, Dakota Johnson.  Other than rolling her eyes or giving an occasional scoff at something that is about the height of her acting abilities.  I’ve yet to see anything from her that proves her acting credits come from anywhere else other than her famous parents.  Mind you when you see who the parents are you see that she has got the same acting genes.  I know that may sound unfair, but I’m just getting tired of this one trick pony in every film I see too much of her in.

The three other main cast members take us through the life of the internationally well-known singer played by Tilda Swinton, her Marianne Lane character being some kind of British Madonna.  Most of the film is set now in present day but we keep going back in time to when her life was at the crossroads of then boyfriend Ralph Fiennes, we get to see a little too much of old Ralph physically in this film, and I did try to scrub my brain to get those images out.  His character of Harry though steals the whole film, he is a force of nature, loving the world of music that he has built up around him.  Swinton and Fiennes have a great chemistry together, and it works better than ever here because of the storytelling that is going on.  Fiennes won’t shut up and Swinton’s character is unable to communicate verbally.  It’s a great pairing.  Harry wants to win Marianne back, but she’s madly in love with Matthias Schoenaerts character Paul.  Paul is a recovering alcoholic who has tried to kill himself.  Harry both loves and despises the relationship that Paul has with Marianne, and wants to lure Marianne back to her singing career and back into his bed.

There is a lot nudity in this film, which fits the story and place of the story, but at some point you start thinking ‘Put it away!’  Catapulting through their lives brings the depth of story that most dramas that won’t even touch.  This level of cast, with Dakota as Harry’s daughter to one side, brings the film up to a higher level.  While you hate Harry, who steals the whole film, you want to see more and more of him.  Swinton is always enjoyable to watch and seeing that she can’t speak much through the film adds a little more to her character.  Schoenaerts has a peaceful quality to his acting that makes him one to watch, he’s had some great roles over the last few years, and if you haven’t heard of him you should correct this.

The film tries to make a commentary on the recent immigrant crisis but fails flat at the fence as it doesn’t put a real face on the real life situation.  I will give you fair warning that the ending of this film shocked me and made me laugh at the same time, I never saw this ending coming and for a moment I thought that it was too far-fetched.  The thing is though it’s a perfect ending to this film, in fact it is probably the best way to end this high-end artistic drama.

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