A Bigger Splash

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino, 2015)

Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes

The vacation of a famous rock star and her boyfriend in Italy is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend and his daughter.

Guadagnino is best known in the United States for his sprawling, florid 2009 melodrama I Am Love, which starred the Scottish goddess Tilda Swinton, a longtime collaborator. I was impressed by the visual sweep of that film, and how its use of music so overtly pushed the movie along and aloft, but the narrative didn’t do much for me. Here Guadagnino adapts an earlier source—a 1969 French picture La piscine (The Swimming Pool) directed by Jacques Deray of Borsalino fame. That picture, starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet, and Jane Birkin, is a sex drama of the vin ordinaire variety, but its story structure provides Guadagnino a solid base from which to deploy some visual, aural, and performative fireworks. Glenn Kenny.

Is it A Bigger Splash or A Bigger Bore?  Despite a strong cast, gorgeous cinematography, and a suffocating sense of sexual tension, this movie takes far too long to get off the ground. When it finally does - more than an hour into the 120+ minute running time - it has already lost its audience.  A loose remake of Jacques Deray’s 1969 crime drama, La Piscine (both films share the same source material), A Bigger Splash echoes the low energy of its progenitor. The new film’s final third is compelling in a lot of ways (although still frustrating in how characters do - or more appropriately don’t - communicate) but its late-innings strengths don’t counterbalance the long slog necessary to get to that point. The movie at times feels experimental - a foreign-language film in English with improvised dialogue and quirky performances. James Berardinelli.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 22 February, 2019 | Now: 22 February, 2019