A Bigger Splash – DVD Review

Ralph Fiennes is immortalised in our minds as one of the best villain actors of all time. Whether it’s terrifyingly stalking the barracks of Auschwitz in Schindler’s List or his nose-less flapping about trying to kill a teenage wizard in the Harry Potter series, you’d have seen his menacing brow in a film before and probably had it populate your nightmares.

The actor, lately, seems to have a resurgence of comedic roles under his belt. His most prolific was as the light voiced M. Gustave in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, and was even nominated for an Academy Award and BAFTA for it.

However, he levels up from that role to act as the flamboyant, garish, and utterly unforgettable Harry in black comedy A Bigger Splash which is out in cinemas now.

A Bigger Splash revolves around Marianne and Paul, a rock-star and filmmaker couple who vacate to a remote Italian island while she rests her voice following an operation on her larynx. Their idyllic holiday is interrupted when old flame and manager Harry and his mysterious daughter Penelope appear. With the sun and booze sending passions soaring, the foursome are sent on a whirlwind of jealousy and danger! Can they all survive the holiday?

Directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, most famously known for Melissa. P, A Bigger Splash offers a tantalising look at the intricacies of love, lust, and loss. With the heat of the Island playing catalysts to the events, each of the four play games with one another to entice and ensnare. Not any character is absolved in the somewhat brutish atmosphere that comes in long drawn silences and sudden small acts of petty vengeance. As the statuses of the quartet become misaligned, the addiction of one another holds the viewer in the precipice of raw and undone craving that makes A Bigger Splash such an evocative watch.

At the centre of the tragic and sublime film are the formidable Tilda Swinton, the ever brilliant Mattias Schoenaerts, and upcoming Dakota Johnson. Johnson incidentally, proved that her role in 50 Shades of Grey was merely that – a role. She has more talent than the cardboard cut-out one she was given and transcends her as a reservedly speaking manipulator whose presence causes much unease. As for Swinton, the actress is truly our greatest and the fact she can perform so much emotion anguish here, barely uttering a sound, solidifies her talent. Schoenaerts is also phenomenal as always.

But really, this is Fienne’s is film. To highlight his exuberant skill that dives into the murky waters of his character, there is one scene that has you toppling down the eyes of a broken man. Harry, whose tops remain open to bear his chest, plays The Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue (fitting his motives quite well too). At first it is humorous but embarrassing Dad dancing. As he twirls out of the villa, his eyes become large and you become more aware of the suffering beneath them – a once great man with everything scattered in his energy and mind. It’s an evocative, turbulent, and compelling performance from an actor who – come on – deserves an Academy Award now.

A Bigger Splash is populated by sublime imagery as the haze of the island becomes a pulse through each of our characters and their ultimate un-doings. Though the narrative falls off balance in the final act, never regaining its true decadent charms of the first half, this is still an enthralling and unquestionably brilliant film.


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