May 23, 2016

CINEMA | Sunshine Noir – 'A Bigger Splash' Gets Wet

Dakota Johnson Matthias Schoenaerts Luca Guadagnino | A Bigger Splash

I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino remakes the 1969 film La Piscine ("The Swimming Pool") as a contemporary erotic thriller keeping its decidedly sophisticated European feel in the misleadingly titled A Bigger Splash. The Italian-French film features an outstanding cast with an impeccably compelling chemistry that makes the slow burn drama such a casually intense viewing experience

Muse Tilda Swinton plays the mostly mute Marianne Lane, a famous rock star, who spends a sex-filled getaway with her troubled documentary filmmaker boyfriend Paul played by a charismatic Matthias Schoenaerts. It's all fun and games until Marianne's ex-lover and Paul's former best friend Harry, a very broadly comedic Ralph Fiennes, shows up to cause tension and revisit old wounds.

Amidst the fine cast of skilled European actors, Dakota Johnson is an absolute standout as Harry's estranged American teenage daughter. She gives a pitch perfect performance as the evasive, mysteriously sexy and young ingénue who brings an innocent but dangerous and erotic element to the film. It's a welcome mishmash of different acting styles that work to make the eccentric but very mannered film such a treat to watch as the complex emotional characterizations are slowly revealed around the spectacular Italian island setting (Pantelleria in the Strait of Sicily).

Screenwriter David Kajganich updates the classic story with enough contemporary twists to make things a little more identifiable without sacrificing the refreshingly unspoken and ambiguous elements of the film's gender politics. Things are framed and photographed with a mature precision reminiscent of Hitchcock's taught filming methods blended with the Patricia Highsmith-style plot.

A Bigger Splash brims with both a simultaneous trashy appeal and a sophisticated, high-class bent. Guadagnino and his cast splendidly dissect themes of romantic idealism, desire, and domesticity in an impossibly sexy manner full of style and passion. It seduces you and hopelessly drags you into the sexual implications of its appealing characters.

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