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Tropez), the couple are played by Belgian hunk Matthias Schoenaerts and Guadagnino muse Tilda Swinton, doing her own Dior duty with a svelte Raf Simons-designed wardrobe.Barely sketched in the original, Swinton’s character has since been upgraded to rock-star status: She’s the one and only (and seemingly un-sunburnable) Marianne Lane, a gender-swapped David Bowie-like glam figure who’s resting her vocal chords after a recent throat operation — an intriguing creative decision on Guadagnino’s part, as it limits her ability to communicate in a film where nearly all the other characters are free to speak not only their minds, but much of the subtext as well.
In six years’ time, the passion clearly hasn’t subsided, though it’s complicated by an unforeseen visit from boisterous music producer Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes).Sustaining such obnoxiousness is a harder feat to pull off than one might imagine, and though this isn’t a typical awards-seeking performance from Fiennes, it certainly ranks among the actor’s best — not only catalyzing all that follows, but reflecting aspects of his director’s personality that have made Guadagnino a somewhat controversial creative figure in Italy (where “I Am Love,” arguably the best movie of the last decade, was a critically derided flop). Here, Guadagnino and his one-of-a-kind star Swinton turn the tables: Marianne was wild once, but she’s found stability in monogamy and now must fight to protect that from the incursion of a disrespectful ex.Like Harry, “A Bigger Splash’s” epicurean director wants — nay, demands — to experience life more fully than the complacent rank and file. As templates go, Deray’s minimalist “Swimming Pool” provides such a spare one from which to extrapolate that “A Bigger Splash” becomes a case study in artistic choices, full of unexpected stylistic flourishes designed to ratchet up the tension and reveal tender chinks in the characters’ respective armor.“I Am Love” was practically a declaration of war on such self-repressive propriety, a hyper-sensualized battle cry for any who might deny themselves according to the rules of society or bonds of family. At times, Guadagnino appears to be doing nothing more than languorously admiring the bare skin of his volatile foursome, who are joined by two of Harry’s communist friends (Lily Mc Menamy and Aurore Clement), freely pouring the cocktails Harry knows recovering alcoholic Paul has given up drinking.As flashbacks reveal, just after he and Marianne called it quits, Harry was the one who brought his two friends together and blessed their union, but now he seems to be having second thoughts, barging in on their idyll with the none-too-subtle agenda of whisking her away.The sort of impulsive, boundary-oblivious force of nature who acts first and thinks later, Harry drags his daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson) along for the task (as what, his witness? ), creating a volatile situation in which all four seem to be in over their heads — and at least one is sure to end up floating dead in the pool.
With a friend like Harry, as the saying goes, who needs enemies?
In the original, his character was the casualty, though all bets are off here, as Guadagnino and American screenwriter David Kajganich (“The Invasion”) have re-engineered the ensemble enough to keep us guessing. In Fiennes’ hands, he’s an unfiltered and loud-mouthed boor who takes such irrepressible pleasure from life’s every moment that we’re all but ready to drown the grating bon vivant from the moment he appears onscreen.
There’s a lot more than just sun and sex teeming beneath the glistening surface of Luca Guadagnino’s “A Bigger Splash,” which takes Jacques Deray’s coolly seductive 1969 “La Piscine” as the platform from which it dives into far deeper — and more explicitly fervid — psychological waters.
Once again, an off-the-grid couple find their already scorching-hot getaway interrupted by the arrival of a lusty old flame and his dangerously seductive daughter, only this time, the characters are more, ahem, fleshed out, while the pic’s off-kilter casting invites a sense of wild unpredictability to the proceedings.
Putting a buffer between local pundits’ vocally negative Venice film fest reactions and its U. release, Fox Searchlight plans to keep this sly erotic thriller under wraps until May 13, 2016, though it will be hard to top the $5 million Stateside splash Guadagnino made with his previous pic, “I Am Love.” Over the decades, Deray’s slow-burn cult favorite has become the frame of reference for a certain “je ne sais quoi,” as embodied by its iconic star, Alain Delon — the face of Dior, so nonchalant behind his Vuarnet shades — and onscreen wife (and real-world ex), Romy Schneider.
Here, vacationing on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria (a intriguingly volatile upgrade from the original’s more laid-back St.