Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes Shine in ‘A Bigger Splash’


Even after the passion has burnt out and the relationship has crumbled, the romances of the past have a way of sticking with us. Sometimes it’s just a whiff of nostalgia, a memory of that one nice moment before the spark of love would be lost forever. Other times it could be a song or another piece of pop culture that brings to mind the ugly fights that caused everything to collapse. Good, bad, and ugly, we carry the memories of past loves with us. That affliction of remembering past affections can even plague the rich and famous, as is the case with the rock star at the heart of A Bigger Splash, the new film from director Luca Guadagnino. A remake of the 1969 French film La Piscine, A Bigger Splash features gorgeous scenery and the overbearing shadows of a romance that has faded.

Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) is one of the world’s biggest rock stars, playing her Bowie-esque music to sold out arenas. Having recently had some throat issues, Marianne and her beau Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) are spending some quiet time in a small Italian village. Paul sees to Marianne’s day-to-day schedule, but mainly the two are spending a romantic getaway together as Marianne’s voice heals. Things get very complicated when Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his newly discovered daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) arrive unexpectedly. In the past, Harry was Marianne’s producer, and the two had a lengthy relationship before Marianne was introduced to Paul by Harry. The gregarious Harry plays in stark contrast to the subdued Marianne and Paul, with the latter not exactly thrilled at the presence of the unexpected company. Unaware of the years of history between the trio, Penelope remains a distant enigma, one that plays fast and loose with the truth. Even in the beautiful, sunny surroundings of this quaint Italian village, the past hangs over this quartet like a storm cloud on the horizon.

Even in a mostly mute role, Tilda Swinton is radiant as ever in the role of Marianne. When we first see her, she’s taking the stage at an expansive arena. Her clothes and makeup bring to mind David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase – an inspired choice as each Bowie and Swinton seem as if they’re from another planet. Most surprising in A Bigger Splash is the performance given by Ralph Fiennes. He’s playing a fast-talking, kind of sleazy producer, also providing the film with much of its comedic content. It’s such a departure from what we’ve come to expect form Fiennes, who even in comedies carries his characters with certain type of class and dignity, all of which aren’t clearly visible here. Fiennes’ Harry is the kind of egotistical character that would pull out an inferior Rolling Stones record like Voodoo Lounge, put it on the turntable without anyone requesting it only to brag about his involvement in this particular forgettable chapter in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll. That questionable taste in Stones records even extends to a rather amusing scene where Fiennes rocks out to “Emotional Rescue,” another underwhelming entry in the late-period Stones canon.

Supporting the two excellent leads are Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts. Johnson, who was the finest thing in last year’s otherwise dreadful Fifty Shades of Grey, gives a strong performance as the ambiguous daughter of Harry. She’s got an alluring presence on the screen, and the manner with which the actress withholds information lends her characters an extra layer of mystery wrapped in an unsettling sensuality. Conversely, Schoenaerts isn’t as mysterious. His character of Paul is given what is at first an ambiguous past, though he slowly sheds his layers of self-protection and opens up about the demons of his past. Between the four stellar leads, A Bigger Splash shows the sheer power that excellent casting can do.

For the first two thirds of A Bigger Splash, the film feels like it’s playing out as an understated drama, one with sharp comedic elements. However, towards the film’s conclusion a shocking event occurs that changes the trajectory of the story. Whereas most films would have this event come sooner and thus become the entire dramatic crux, this stunning event is more of a coda to the twisted relationships that we’ve been watching for much of the film. It may seem underwhelming in the moment, but its thematic qualities and consistent embrace of ambiguity make for an engaging watch, even if I was one of those underwhelmed by this sudden turn. In many regards, I think A Bigger Splash would make an interesting double feature with last year’s By the Sea – both are kind of throwback art films featuring beautiful scenery in Italian villages that are well-acted and interesting only to buckle under the weight of their wobbly third acts (I still like both, mind you).

A pretty good drama with rock ‘n’ roll in its heart, A Bigger Splash may not make the biggest splash at the American box office. After all, this is a somewhat cerebral examination of the lasting impact of relationships and how we can carry them with us for years after their conclusion. As Captain America: Civil War hits the multiplexes, A Bigger Splash is a smart piece of counterprogramming for those looking for something to appeal their hearts and brains instead of just bombarding the eyes with extravagant spectacle. Between Grand Budapest Hotel and Hail, Caesar!, I’ve yet to see a bad movie that features both Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes. After A Bigger Splash, I still haven’t.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
The Tiger Hunter
Now on Blu-ray: ‘The Tiger Hunter’ Glides by with its Charming Heart

Always a hot-button issue, the topic of immigration has recently dominated...

'12 Strong' Press Conference
Chris Hemsworth and the Cast and Crew of ’12 Strong’ Discuss Bringing the Declassified True Story to the Big Screen

In the days after 9/11, as the United States grieved the...

Shout! Factory Unleashes Joe Dante’s Cult Classic ‘Matinee’ on Blu-ray

We’re at this point in pop culture where everything seems to...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Vr Change
Guest Author: Katie Green – How Might VR Change the Way We Play

Super Guest Author, Katie Green, shares how VR might change the...

Yu-Gi-Oh Wave of Light
A Big Wave is Coming – Yu-Gi-Oh Wave of Light Structure Deck Releases Friday

A big wave is coming in the form of light, Yu-Gi-Oh...

Yu-Gi-Oh Lost Cards
Ancient Treasures Uncovered – Yu-Gi-Oh Lost Art Cards

Beginning in February, ancient treasures will be revealed and fans will...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Die Hard Christmas
The Greatest Christmas Movie Becomes The Greatest Christmas Book – A Die Hard Christmas Review

The greatest Christmas movie ever made becomes the greatest Christmas storybook...

‘The 49th Key’ is a Familiar Story Told with Soul

Title: The 49th Key Written by: Erika Lewis Art by: J.K....

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is about to Strike!

Title: Doomsday Clock #1 Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Gary Frank Colorist:...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
WWE Slam Crate Starts the Year Off Right

In just two weeks time WWE’s Royal Rumble not only continues...

January’s Loot Crate is Here!

January is a month where resolutions are made, hopes are extended...

Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba
Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 Will Be Great For Your Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba Cards

Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 will be great for your collection of Yu-Gi-Oh...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
LFA 30 Full Results

Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA), one of the most recognizable names in...

AXS TV Closes NJPW’s ‘G1 Climax 27’ With Four Episodes From The Final Weekend Beginning Friday Oct. 13

Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 11, 2017) – “Rainmakers” and “High Fly...

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Rocky Romero has created an auction to raise money for UNIDOS por Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

I’m The costume was worn by Rocky during the final Roppongi...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Adult Continuity #11 Star Wars Underworld: A XXX parody


New Year's Resolutions for Fandom
New Year’s Resolutions for Fandom

It’s the start of another year and while everyone out there...

Samo Says: Star Wars – The Last of My Patience

When I was a child, I loved Star Wars. I had...

Event News Event Reviews
dough bar
The Dough Bar and the Protein Donut

Created by Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez, The Dough Bar Doughnuts are...

Improve Sleep and Performance with TrueDark

TrueDark by Biohacked aims to improve your sleep, performance, and health by...

Pyramid Escape Room Review
Escape Room LA’s The Pyramid Escape Room Review

Overview of The Pyramid Escape Room The Pyramid Escape Room, Escape Room...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...