Set in the south of Italy on the island of Pantelleria the modern day romance A Bigger Splash has a few twists to its plot that’s nicely handled by the famous cast. The sound track gets a lot of work while the foursome bask in the gorgeous rocky coast of the exquisite island. The storyline does lack some zip and it flounders somewhat, but in the long run this 2 hour movie does work well as a home video or digital download.
Famous rock legend Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her lover, filmmaker Paul De Smidt (Matthias Schoenaerts), are taking in the sun and ravishing sunsets while she’s recovering from an operation on her strained vocal cords. One afternoon while bathing in a secluded bay Marianne gets a phone call from her record producer and ex-lover Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) that he’s about to land at a nearby airport. Not thrilled that he’s showing up during her much needed recuperation, they reluctantly go to the airport to meet the man she’s eluded for the past six years. When they get their however, he has his newly discovered twenty something daughter Penelope Lannier (Dakota Johnson) in tow.
So begins a visit that turns into an unexpected turn of events that change the lives of each of the main characters. Italian Director Luca Guadagnino knows the country well and inserts many lavish scenes for the background of this sordid coming together of four very different personalities. While he does put together a fine production with both camera and settings, his story gets a bit over played shoving his cast into one clinching sexual situation after another. Predictable and impetuously sensual at times, the film often wastes the talent that he assembled for the project.
On the flip side the film has some excellent performances especially on the part of Ralph Fiennes who steals every scene from the moment his character lands in Pantelleria. He shows Harry as a conniver who wants to get back into Marianne’s life and steal her away from Paul. He’s like a peacock spreading his feathers to show his ability to attract Marianne and win her over. He even gets to bare his all in his quest.
Tilda Swinton does a good job with her role playing it with very little dialogue because of Marianne’s vocal cord operation. But, it actually makes her character more vulnerable to the advances of Harry. In some very provocative scenes the audience gets to see her being cornered by Harry in a very uncomfortable way.
It was a nice surprise to see Dakota Johnson in the role of the crafty and lustful Penelope. Her ability as Penelope to play with Paul’s mind and get him under her spell takes center stage in this devious tale. Her role doesn’t have a lot of dialogue either, but her looks and beckoning actions are all she needs to make Penelope a player.
The extras are actually more of a look into the personalities and characters within the movie.
“The Silent One” features Tilda Swinton explaining her role as Marianne
“The Extroverted One” features Ralph Fiennes in a quick overview of Harry
“The Young One” here Dakota Johnson reveals the fire in Penelope
“The Mysterious One” features Matthias Schoenaerts talking about his character Paul
“Story and Cast” Each of the main stars and director talk about the plot
“Beneath the Surface” is more of a mini making of the film
“The Inspiration” The screenwriter and director go over what inspired the making of the movie
“Another World” about the filming of the movie on the beautiful island in the Mediterranean
There are also a Gallery of shots from the film
A Bigger Splash has been rated R by the MPAA for graphic nudity, some strong sexual content, language and brief drug use. The film also contains a scene of violence that adds a twist to this already evocative movie.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A good film with some very good acting. (C+)
Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson, Aurore Clement, Lily McMenamy
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
MPAA Rating: R for graphic nudity, some strong sexual content, language and brief drug use (There’s also a scene of violence)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Running Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
Original Theatrical Release Date: May 13, 2016
Video Release Date: September 6, 2016
Language: English and Italian
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray (also available on DVD and Digital HD)
Audio: Blu-ray- DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Video: Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Number of Discs: Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD 2 discs
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment