Review: Showstopping Fiennes makes ‘A Bigger Splash’
A rock star and her boyfriend are vacationing on a remote Italian island when her ex and his nubile young daughter show up out of the blue to stay with them for a few days. What could possibly go wrong?
Such is the set-up for “A Bigger Splash,” a sensuous and thought-provoking adult drama dealing with temptation, sexuality and carnal desires. Its manner is button-pushing and slightly uneasy.
Tilda Swinton stars as Marianne Lane, a rocker who is part Chrissie Hynde and part Karen O, who is on vocal rest while vacationing with her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaert) on the island of Pantelleria. They are lounging around, mostly naked, enjoying the sun and being away from the chaos of the world.
In swoops Harry (Ralph Fiennes in a mad, uninhibited performance), Marianne’s former lover, who is like a dialed down version of Ben Kingsley’s character from “Sexy Beast.” Joining him is his daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson), who is just beginning to unlock her sexuality. The situation is a powder keg ready to blow.
Director Luca Guadagnino, who directed Swinton in “I Am Love,” stirs the pot, slowly at first, until it boils over the top. He captures the beauty of Pantelleria and uses it as a backdrop for his layered play on honesty and fidelity.
The actors are all first-rate, but it’s Fiennes who makes the biggest splash, whirling around like a Tasmanian Devil. When he breaks free dancing to the Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue,” he’s like the embodiment of reckless abandon. You can’t take your eyes off him or the movie.
‘A Bigger Splash’
Rated R for graphic nudity, some strong sexual content, language and brief drug use
Running time: 124 minutes