Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[Review] A Bigger Splash

It's getting hot in here...

Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, The Drop), and Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) star in Luca Guadagnino's brash boiling pot of affairs.

Just recovering from vocal cord surgery, rockstar Marianne Lane (Swinton) and her boyfriend Paul (Schoenaerts) are hidden away in romantic bliss on a lush island off the coast of Italy. Their beach quickies are abruptly interrupted when an old friend named Harry (Fiennes) and his daughter Penelope (Johnson) fly in for a visit. From the moment we first meet Harry, we can tell that the guy is an overwhelming fellow (he pisses on a grave and goes streaking within his first 15 minutes of screen time).

The details of Harry's history with Marianne and Paul are kept a secret early on (and later revealed in flashbacks), but even without the flashbacks there's a not-so-subtle impression that he's in love with Marianne, and everyone else is suspicious about it as well. The fairly predictable premise is a steamy recipe for awkward tension, heated jealousy, and uncontrollable desires.

While these mostly unsavory characters aren't people you'd want to spend a vacation with (let alone a few hours), it's engrossing to watch this humid situation unfold. The loaded dialogue, stellar performances, and clashing musical score really set the mood just right. Pantelleria definitely makes for a beautiful scenic backdrop, and the camera flaunts picturesque views under sun-drenched, overexposed cinematography (I'll tell you what, that's not the only thing overexposed in this film.)

This summer release's climax doesn't burst with super-powered battles and explosions, but the story's main confrontation feels just as monumental and intense. But after the big moment arrives, the duration unfortunately drags out for another 20 minutes or so without adding any major revelations. I think it would have been better if the last section were completely axed. However, everything that comes before that is likely to stick with you like geckos on walls.

( 7/10 )

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