Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Bigger Splash: Monday, May 16 2016

A Bigger Splash (2015) is an Italian-French mystery-crime film.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino; the film is slow-paced. I found myself waiting for the action to happen, never mind the murder I was expecting to happen anytime.

The scene is set in the remote Sicilian island of Pantelleria, in the heat of summer. The acting of Tilda Swinton, as Marianne Lane, is superb. She really dominates. She hardly speaks a word, as her character is recovering from a throat operation, and isn't allowed to speak, but we understand her every feeling. When Harry Hawkes, played by Ralph Fiennes, arrives to join Marianne and Paul De Smedt, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, his frenetic talking and behaviour certainly does stir things up. Here is a Ralph Fiennes very different from any other characters he has played. Harry is totally different from the Ralph of The English Patient. Paul is played competently, but Dakota Johnson is disappointing as Harry's daughter, Penelope.

Harry does emit a lot of inconsequential chatter, but the main communications are done by body language. It really is amazing how much can be transmitted by facial expressions. This the actors do so well we know what they are thinking. Which is just as well, as that is also the only way we really know what is going on between them. Four narcissistic, amoral people creating problems for themselves and the others by their behaviour. A crime is committed; the Italian police are blinded by Marianne the rock star; justice is done by not being done. The film gained 91% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. That came as a surprise to six of us who saw the film together. Only our seventh fellow viewer enjoyed it.

As I was viewing the movie something seemed strange. The film opens with a scene in which Marianne and Paul are stretched out enjoying the sunshine, completely naked. When Harry arrives, it isn't very long before Harry is joining Marianne and Paul in their state of nudity. Dakota Johnson as Penelope Lanier, Harry's daughter, also sheds her clothing. Full frontal nudity was reserved for Harry, as he runs around the pool before diving in. Quite a sight: fortunately it is done in the evening darkness. There is so little nudity in American movies nowadays, all this bare flesh seemed peculiar.

Afterwards, doing some research, I discovered A Bigger Splash is called an EROTIC crime film. It is also Italian/French. To people who believe sex is only for procreation and not to be enjoyed, this movie would seem salacious. My friends have a healthy, North American attitude to sex, and the nudity went right over their heads. Their complaint was that the movie was too long, and boring, only saved slightly by its setting in the sunlight.

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