This little film is as moving and funny as it is strange. And it's really quite strange.
A strange, funny little film, A Bigger Splash is billed as a dark comedy, or as a kind of romance. Really it sits somewhere between the two.
The film follows rock-star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) on holiday in Sicily, where she is recovering from throat surgery. There they are visited by Marianne’s ex-producer and ex-lover, Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). Exploring the relationships of the four characters, A Bigger Splash is one of those films where nothing seems to happen until quite suddenly everything happens at once, catching you completely off guard.
All four actors give good performances, playing off one another well. Schoenaerts, portraying the most normal character (even though he is a recovering alcoholic who attempted suicide), can come off as a bit less engaging than his co-stars, but is never less than accomplished throughout the film. Johnson is excellent, floating through the film all sultry stares and beguiling snippets of dialogue, her character is kind of unknowable, in a way that is amusing in its pretension.
The two vastly more experienced actors, Fiennes and Swinton, are, as is to be expected, on top form. Swinton’s character cannot speak properly due to her surgery, but she is still comfortably in control of every scene she is in, a poised, deliberate, beautifully subtle performance that gives way to a brief outburst of noise and emotion in the film’s shocking climax. Fiennes is the complete opposite of Swinton, owning every scene not with subtlety but with a constant stream of hilarious enthusiasm. He bounces around the frame, not content to be still for even a second, and provides much of the film’s comedy – which is sustained and well done throughout.
The film is wonderfully made, pretty shots and perfectly chosen music adding to the actors’ performances. It is, for the most part, well written, meandering without dragging and allowing the actors to really sink their teeth into their rules, but bringing everything together for climactic moments in a compelling way. However, in the film’s only major flaw, it fails to resolve properly once everything has reached a head. Instead, we go from a tense, thrilling scene to an aimless attempt to wrap everything up. The film’s final ten minutes or so feel clunky, and like they last for much longer than they do.
All in all, A Bigger Splash, is an enjoyable, incredibly acted, and very, very funny film. The final ten minutes notwithstanding, it is a refreshing little film that you should definitely try and see when it gets a proper release.
A Bigger Splash (2015), directed by Luca Guadagnino, is being shown as part of the 2015 BFI London Film Festival. Further information about the film including screening times and ticket information can be found here.