Going into a film without knowing anything about it is a rather fantastic feeling, and it certainly suits this film a lot. Some way into ‘A Bigger Splash’, it just throws a curveball and becomes a totally different kind of film, but sadly that doesn’t work here, for the most part.
The film starts out as a drama, with Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) relaxing on a beautiful island, but they are soon joined by record producer Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). With their arrival comes plenty of tension and lots of secrets and you can kinda tell where its all gonna lead, but then the film pulls a turn you don’t expect and manages to keep you relatively intrigued. The third act though, is too long, and could have been cut down a lot – but that’s the only big flaw.
Easily the best thing in the film is Ralph Fiennes; from the moment he enter to the moment he leaves he steals the show. His character treads a very fine line between charming and annoying, and I think very few actors could have achieved this balance so brilliantly. Fiennes is absolutely superb, he manages to add so much depth and so much history to his character, Harry, that we don’t even need to see his flashbacks. It really is something when someone blows Tilda Swinton outta the water and whilst Swinton gives a great performance (using only a few words), Fiennes quite simply gives a performance that should go down as one of the decade’s best. Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson also both give good performances but they are most definitely a league below Fiennes and Swinton.
The film’s cinematography is another highlight, capturing the beautiful landscape in a captivating and awe-inspiring manner, and making me really want to live on an exotic, Italian island. The direction is solid, but like I said, the film could lose about half an hour to twenty minutes, although this could be more of a writing problem. Not that all of the writing is bad though. The first two acts are perfectly placed and wonderfully written, with an impromptu dance sequence thrown in to rival that of Oscar Isaac’s disco spectacle in ‘Ex Machina’.
Overall, ‘A Bigger Splash is worth the watch even though it runs a fair bit too long. If anything, this film is worth watching for Ralph Fiennes’ excellent performance alone.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaert