A Bigger SplashCultureCinemaMovie reviews
A Bigger Splash is a film which revels in the small scale. Illustrating the slow and chaotic collapse of a complex and nuanced love rectangle, it’s the little tics and details which make the film so endearing. The naturalistic handheld camera movements, the tendency of the film to linger on the seemingly ordinary, and the slightest of expressions on the actors’ faces all contribute to both the charm and the compelling intimacy of the story. The island of Pantelleria, the stage upon which this tragedy unfolds, is unashamedly presented as a summer holiday idyll, but at the same time, the oppressive heat and washed out tones of this setting are the perfect accompaniment to the unbearable tension between the characters. Every piece of music, even as it provides stark levity, feels thematically significant; every flashback, every instance of water, every whispered line is placed just so, in a masterful construct of a film.
But A Bigger Splash proves itself capable of painting in broader strokes as well, taking a deep dive into themes of sexuality, age and regret, even immigration. It’s a film that’s not afraid to say exactly what it thinks, even if, or perhaps because, it shocks and offends its audience. It’s brave filmmaking, which conveys its ideas with both honesty and eloquence.
At the forefront of this highly articulate storytelling is a truly virtuosic cast who each dare to push the boundaries of their type. Tilda Swinton, one of the great theatrical dames of our time, barely vocalises – until she does – but still manages to embody the film’s emotional core, to devastating effect. Ralph Fiennes, known for bringing a certain dignified gravity to everything he does, is here in full-on exuberance, at once both lovable and exhausting, but with a hidden dour side that’s slowly drawn out of him. Only cinematic marvels of the highest order are capable of bringing such depth in such a convincing way, although relative youngsters Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts are more than able to keep pace. Unbelievably, the two hours of this film’s running time pass in a flash, and more to the point, every second feels necessary. A Bigger Splash is nuanced text, skilfully executed, with a compelling cast, a great soundtrack and a beautiful, evocative setting. Really, what’s not to like?
A Bigger Splash is released nationwide on 12th February 2016.
Watch the trailer for A Bigger Splash here: