Review: A Bigger Splash, B+
Rated R, 124 minutes
The engaging, hypnotic new erotic thriller "A Bigger Splash" will make waves for its superb performances, handsome setting and some provocative plot angles that keep you guessing even after you leave the theater. While vacationing on a Sicilian island with her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), a rock star (Tilda Swinton) receives an unexpected visit from old flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his seductive daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Directed by Luca Guadagnino, who directed Swinton in 2009's "I Am Love," and written by David Kajganich, "A Bigger Splash" is full of charismatic performances and brims with an unconventional sensuality. All four leads are solid and give brave performances (there's full frontal nudity from all four, in case you're wondering), but the standout is clearly Fiennes, whose energy and enthusiasm rips through the screen and takes hold of the movie; he's annoying at first but then that's the point: he's a man clearly obsessed (or maybe possessed, who knows) with finding a connection somewhere. On the other end of the spectrum is the unconventional but beguiling, uber-stylish Oscar-winner Swinton, who's perfectly cast here as an aging, glam rock star, and one that requires her to act with her face and body; her character has had voice surgery and much of her dialogue, except for brief flashbacks, are spoken at a whisper or less, but Swinton has her own way of holding the camera, which she does expertly given Fiennes' ability to take charge of a scene. Handsome Belgian actor Schoenaerts is also strong here, as is Johnson, in one of her stronger parts, both of whose characters have some issues they're hiding; Schoenaerts also has the film's best line, in which he essentially tells Fiennes to shut up (and he does, but only very briefly). All the characters are essentially trying to seduce each other, until their passions get the best of them, and one of them meets an untimely, wet ending, in a big splash of a plot angle that's not as surprising as you might think. It goes on a little too long with some unnecessary flashbacks, and Gudaagnino struggles with ending it efficiently, but until then "A Bigger Splash" is a mesmerizing, satisfying tale of love and seduction.