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DVD: A Bigger Splash | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: A Bigger Splash

DVD: A Bigger Splash

Swinton and Fiennes spar in an erotic, exotic Italian enigma

Rock'n'roll with me: Marianne (Tilda Swinton)

Luca Guadagnino’s previous film, I Am Love, confirmed the Italian renaissance begun by Matteo Garrone and Paolo Sorrentino. Star Tilda Swinton, ripe sensuality, rich landscapes and sometimes operatic emotion all return for A Bigger Splash. Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson complete its quartet, lounging and sparring on Pantalleria, the Italian island where Swinton’s Bowiesque rock star, Marianne Lane, is hiding out after a vocal chord op.

Harry (Fiennes), with his apparent daughter Penelope (Johnson) in tow, is her former producer and lover, whose sudden appearance dangerously disturbs her lotusland retreat with Schoenaerts’ Paul, the man who replaced him.

First glimpsed together in perfect, naked, sun-kissed peace, singer Marianne can only whisper or signal emotion while her precious voice heals, suiting taciturn Paul. But Harry’s mouth never shuts. Flashbacks show the trio’s previous entanglements, back in the world of rock’n’roll and especially the Stones Harry still truly loves, almost as much as he still loves and wants Marianne. Refugees washing up on the island crudely suggest a wider context.

But the wonder of Swinton and Fiennes especially – their exotic, lively faces, fierce minds and exposed bodies – is enough. Fiennes’s Harry tries to dance, strut and talk his way out of himself and inside her again. They mix kindness and fury, confusion and hurt into aching, uneven passion. Johnson's callous teenage tempter and Schoenaerts’s brooding rival male join them in summer sun and water that becomes a glistening cage. It’s a decadent place they overheat in.

On the generous extras, Guadagnino leads his writer David Kajganich and editor Walter Fasano in discursive, cinephile, sometimes revelatory commentary. A much longer cut the director tantalisingly hopes to release is hinted at with 10 deleted scenes, one essential, lifting its final, truncated edit onto a hysterical edge of comic horror.

Swinton and Fiennes mix kindness and fury, confusion and hurt into aching, uneven passion


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Big disappointment for me - not even Tilda's habitual designer elegance gilded the sheer unbearability of these people. Wonder how Fiennes could have conveyed a ghastly character without actually being ghastly himself into the bargain. Liked the use of music, though.

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