A Bigger Splash
I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino reteams with Tilda Swinton for a visually bold psychosexual drama
Jacques Deray's La Piscine, from 1969 – a drama of sexual jealousy and possessiveness – featured big, sexy stars (Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Jane Birkin). Luca Guadagnino’s take on it, A Bigger Splash, is a similarly star-studded affair, though with a more aesthetically bold approach that should be familiar to anyone who saw the director’s last fiction film, I Am Love.
Marianne (Swinton) is a rock star (visually recalling Bowie in one flashback) recovering from a vocal cords operation, taking it easy with filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Schoenaerts). Their peace is disrupted by the arrival of Marianne’s former producer/ex-flame Harry (Fiennes) and his young daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). The story from here becomes equal parts psychosexual power-play, Rossellini-esque relationship drama, Patricia Highsmith-recalling thriller, and bawdy farce. This potentially messy mix miraculously works.
All four leads are great in their own way, but Fiennes steals the show with his obnoxious, brash whirlwind of an alpha male bellend. His manic dance to The Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue is one of the most invigorating comic set-pieces of recent memory.