Review: A Bigger Splash

We all, at one point or another, would love the luxury of escaping; from our personal problems, our physical woes, our responsibilities, our history, or our future. The wealthy elite have this ability, at least in theory. They flit off to their villas and cabins, their homes away from home, where they might recuperate at their leisure. Such is the case in A Bigger Splash. The troubled celebrities of our story find themselves in hiding, yet incapable of escaping their past woes, or those of the world. Despite their best efforts, no one, no matter their wealth, can escape reality.

Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love follow-up, A Bigger Splash, showcases this escapism while touching on complex issues such as gender performativity, sexuality, and international conflict with subtle, understated grace and simultaneous volatility. It’s a slow burn, the kind of film that improves on each viewing, and reveals new depths the longer it stews in the foreground of your mind.

Splash focuses on aging rock star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton). A gender-swapped David Bowie, she’s in recovery-induced hiding with her lover and companion of six years, documentary filmmaker Paul de Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts). She recently had vocal chord surgery to help regain her failing voice. The result is that she cannot speak, both out of physician-mandated recovery instructions, and an actual inability to produce sound.

Enter Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes), Marianne’s ex and a major music producer, and his newly discovered nubile daughter, Penelope Lanier (Dakota Johnson). The two impose themselves on Paul and Marianne’s recovery away from the world, while Harry plays on Marianne’s impetuous nature, urging her to sing and live hard despite her limitations. The result is an explosive clash that thrusts all manner of normalcy into a surreal atmosphere of loss.

A Bigger Splash is an erotic drama, a thriller of sorts that uses its intricate character study to fuel its intrigue. We are pulled in by the sexual escapades of our leads, as opening scenes set the tone with nude sunbathing, and silent pool-side orgasms. As Harry and Penelope arrive, the silence is broken, predominantly by Harry, who can’t seem to keep his mouth shut. The majority of the film’s dialogue is left to the men, who speak on behalf of Marianne, the mute, domesticated rock star, and Penelope, the nubile sexpot whose power is in her eyes and her hips.

But this representation of gender is conscious, depicting an exhilaratingly problematic depiction of contemporary gender roles and performativity. We are given two women left to portray the entire spectrum of female presence in society; Marianne, the ageing rock star with no voice or conceivable role in society other than to be adored, and Penelope, the youthful beauty who must use her body to get ahead, and has no concept of consequence. Her millennial approach to life seeps into the lives of her father, and his friends, poisoning things from the outside with a subtle glance and a grin. Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 411 – We Wanna See The Business

Despite seeing nearly 100 films combined at TIFF 2015, Ryan from The Matinee and Kurt indulge Andrew by getting out to the multiplex to see the latest Johnny Depp performance, as James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass. We have a spoiler discussion on that, but needless to say, no one was overly pleased with Andrew for suggesting it. Kurt and Ryan attempt to wrassle TIFF to the ground after 11 days of shared screenings and food. They, in part, hash out the bests, the beasts and the worsts (or in the cast of Love 3D, the wurst) of some of the films on hand.

But wait, there is more.

Ryan and Andrew have a Watch List which includes re-evaluated Spielberg, various Afflecks and a new-ish film starring Matthew Broderick. Hunker down with your favorite blankie, take out your blue contact lenses, and settle in for the show!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 

 
 

 

 
Would you like to know more…?

Review: Need for Speed

NeedForSpeedStill3

Director: Scott Waugh
Screenplay: George Gatins, John Gatins
Producers: John Gatins, Patrick O’Brien, Mark Sourian
Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbertson, Dakota Johnson, Michael Keaton
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 130 min.


At some point, someone is going to have to explain to me what the appeal is of running in a race where the prize is five cars, most of which don’t even make it to the finish line. I can understand that in the case of Need for Speed’s Tobey (Aaron Paul), the race is far more personal but otherwise, what’s the point? Bragging rights? I’m not sure I’d be bragging about being arrested at the end of a race and the last time I checked, a Ferrari that has exploded into a fireball has the same value as a pinto that has exploded into a fireball: that would be zero.

Based on Electronic Art’s long running video game franchise, the movie adaptation basically takes a bunch of really awesome cars and gives people a reason to drive around in them at high speeds and perform ridiculous stunts. The story pits Tobey, a struggling garage owner, against Dino (Dominic Cooper), a successful race car driver and dealership owner whose business isn’t doing as well as he outwardly suggests. The beef gets deeper when Tobey and Dino are in a race that ends with a death. Tobey goes to prison and comes out a few yeas later determined to get his revenge by claiming a spot on the winner-takes-all race organized by a mysterious character simply known as Monarch (Michael Keaton occasionally channelling Beatlejuice – not to mention a blunt homage to Vanishing Point) and, of course, winning the race and in the process maybe knocking Dino down a couple of pegs.

Would you like to know more…?