In the idyllic surrounds of the Italian countryside, renowned rock star Marianne Lane, (Tilda Swinton), and her beau, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), are taking a peaceful, well earned break. The stresses and strains of touring have taken their toll on Marianne and more specifically, her voice.
Such peace will be short lived however with the impending arrival of larger-than-life, Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes), Marianne’s ex producer and lover.
His arrival, accompanied by his ‘daughter’ Penelope (Dakota Johnson), is one of characteristic enthusiasm and over exuberance.
Harry is to peace and quiet what cold water is to a chip pan.
His appearance does not just mark an end to the tranquility, but in no time at all acts as the catalyst for the unearthing of old skeletons, and a real sense of uneasiness quickly descends upon the vacationing four.
Disguised by his mask of charm and joie-de-vivre, Harry’s war of attrition proceeds to change the romantic dynamic into a test of trust and tolerance for all.
Harry’s inability to pipe down and Marianne’s inability to respond vocally to his inappropriate advances and attempts to rekindle their amorous past is a stark and well played-out contrast. Despite the obvious hinderances to their communication channels, their interaction is nonetheless riveting and at times electric.
Paul’s fortitude in coping with his ‘friend’s’ provocative antics is admirable, but his patience fast becomes worn and when one adds in the extra dimension of the mischievous Penelope’s (Dakota Johnson) advances towards him, a potentially hot scenario threatens to boil right over.
Fiennes’ performance in particular is superb, striking just the right balance between being the ‘life and soul’ and a serial annoyance, and to a point, he goes some way to making this a film that delivers; but with such a stunning, seductive Italian backdrop and with such acting talent on display, A Bigger Splash really should make a bigger splash than it ultimately actually does.
There’s simply not enough to make this tale of tangled, festering love interests stand out from the crowd, and it’s another piece that we can chalk up to losing its way somewhat as it fairly apologetically shuffles towards a rather tagged-on, unsatisfying conclusion.
It’s not without its quirks and charms with some impressive scenes, memorable moments and engaging performances, but A Bigger Splash is merely worth a watch, and nothing more.