There is a teeth-clenching moment in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash – the director’s hot-n-heavy, ruff-n-tumble follow-up to I Am Love – in which a group of refugees threaten to ruin Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts’ erotic misadventures. The film unspools on the Island of Pantelleria, so such reference to current issues proves worryingly careless. But then, Splash has little interest in the real world. Indeed, it almost basks in a narcissistic disinterest towards it. And it works.
It stars Swinton as Marianne, a career rock star with a damaged larynx who takes a secluded holiday with her hunky boyfriend (Schoenaerts) on the aforementioned Italian isle. Their narrative spanner in the works comes in the form of Fiennes, who – building on recent comedic outings – plays Marianne’s eccentric ex-producer-slash-lover Harry. He shows up with his illegitimate daughter in tow (Johnson). From here we gorge on beautifully shot, edited and scored first world spoils as the attractive thesps flutter eyelashes and open old wounds. Oedipal tensions and tragedy simmers in the Mediterranean sun, as everyone, ourselves included, gets a little hot under the collar. It’s a vacuous sort of mystery, but a seductive and riotous one just the same.
A Bigger Splash | Directed by Luca Guadagnino (Italy, France 2016) with Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson. Starts May 5.