Monday, May 02, 2016

“A Bigger Splash”– Movie Review



This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of the new drama, “A Bigger Splash”, starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson.


When a rock star and her lover have their vacation ruined by her former boyfriend who unexpectedly arrives with his daughter, tensions rise between the two men – but will she be forced to pick one over the other?


Following a grueling tour, rock singer Marianne Lane (Swinton) goes on vacation with her partner, documentary filmmaker Paul (Schoenaerts).  Their vacation, however, is anything but carefree:  it is being taken as per her doctor’s orders.  It seems that her excruciating schedule has taken its toll on Marianne’s voice; if she doesn’t give it a rest for a minimum of two weeks, she may never be able to sing again.  While lounging quietly on a small Italian island, they are surprised when her ex-boyfriend Harry (Fiennes) shows up along with his once-estranged daughter Penelope (Johnson). 

Crashing at Marianne’s villa, Paul is immediately uncomfortable with their presence.  At first, Marianne seems pleased to see Harry again, but his personality soon wears on her nerves, especially when she sees he has an unusual relationship with Penelope since they’ve reconciled.  While Harry tries to smooth over Paul’s hurt feelings, he’s simultaneously trying to find ways to be alone with Marianne for the purpose of stealing her away from Paul.  Meanwhile, Penelope, who’s been a little hostile towards Marianne, seems to have her sights set on seducing Paul. 

One night, when the women go to bed early, Paul and Harry confront each other about what has been unsaid all along:  Paul accuses Harry of trying to push him out of the way in order to win back Marianne and Harry accuses Paul of trying to hook up with Penelope behind his back.  Before long, it escalates into a physical contest with the men stumbling into the backyard pool; continuing their fight in the water, Paul drowns Harry.  Horrified at finding Harry dead the next morning, Marianne calls the police and their investigation begins.  With Marianne suspecting Paul of the murder, will she convince the police of his innocence or can they find sufficient evidence to charge him with the crime?


Although there are a few promising ideas and potential plot twists hinted at in “A Bigger Splash”, none of them are ever fully realized.  Instead, this plodding movie feels considerably longer than its two-hours.  Its biggest problem is that the story doesn’t really start until the end of the second act; before that, there are other elements teased but they all wind up being nothing more than misdirection.  If all you want in a movie is pretty people in a beautiful setting with gorgeous scenery, “A Bigger Splash” will suit nicely.  On the other hand, if you are looking for a film with a compelling story, you’ll be forced to look elsewhere. 

It seems the filmmakers are only interested in spending the first hour and a half faking out the audience – essentially, wasting everyone’s time.  Its screenplay’s structure is in a serious imbalance.  The initial 90 minutes of this motion picture meanders as if the movie itself is on vacation – not in a particular hurry to go anywhere.  It’s not until the final act – and fairly late in that act – that we learn some astounding facts regarding certain characters.  If only these had been introduced earlier!  Impatiently, an audience will understandably ask itself at some point, “Where is this story going?”.  The answer, unfortunately, is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. 

The only way “A Bigger Splash” will have you on the edge of your seat in a movie theater is if you are contemplating leaving.  In fact, during this screening, approximately a half dozen audience members walked out about half-way through.  They cannot and should not be shamed for this.  Instead, they should be commended for their excellent judgment and time management skills.  One can only imagine how much more interesting this motion picture would have been if its story had gotten started earlier.  As it is, “A Bigger Splash” winds up drowning itself in its own aimlessness. 

A Bigger Splash (2015) on IMDb

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!