A Bigger Splash: Film Review

A Bigger Splash is all about a love rectangle – not triangle – between the incredible leads Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson, and I was incredibly excited to see the sexual tension and drama unfold in this erotic thriller.

Swinton plays Marianne Lane, a rock star who is resting on the remote Italian island of Pantelleria with her boyfriend Paul (Schoenaerts) following an operation on her vocal chords. She is on voice rest, but her silence is soon tested when her larger-than-life ex-boyfriend and record producer Harry (Fiennes) shows up with his newly discovered daughter Penelope (Johnson).

I had wanted to see this at the London Film Festival because the cast is incredible and the story sounded juicy, but it isn’t quite as thrilling as I had hoped. It is very indie, slow-moving and a bit too long, which means for most of the film you don’t actually know where the hell it is going to end up or if there is a plot beyond them all having slowly-revealed issues with each other. The actual climax is genius and unexpected, but the thrilling aspect is dulled by the fact it took so long to get there. Then there is like another 20 minutes on the end that could have been tightened up. The whole film could have done with a hearty trim to heighten the tension and keep the pace moving. But I guess the leisurely pace reflected the relaxed vibe of them all lounging around in their holiday home on the gorgeous island, which such an important part of the movie. Fantastic location.

The performances, however, are top notch. The fact Swinton manages to be able to communicate so much despite being unable to speak (although she does often!) is incredible. She says so much with her body. The stand-out is Fiennes as the forever talkative, insatiable and jealous Harry who wants Marianne back and cannot stand that she loves Paul. It is a very uninhibited performance – he dances around to the Rolling Stones in such a ridiculous way that you are impressed with his courage and he is completely naked (penis and all) on several occasions. That said, most of the cast strip (although only Johnson goes completely too) as this is a sexual story and there is much sex to be had. Johnson and Schoenaerts are capable too, but they mostly seemed to contribute their good looks (and what goods looks they are). Schoenaerts has an incredible brooding presence and tanned torso to match – something I enjoyed very much.

It is just a shame the film as a whole was so slow-moving that it robbed itself of the heightened tension and drama it was easily capable of having. The characters and their problems were all unique and interesting, their relationships were complex and intriguing, the location was gorgeous and the acting was impressive. What a shame.

In cinemas now 


  1. Man, I loved this film. The slow boiling suspense, the beautiful settings, the brilliant cast, fantastic soundtrack- the complex character development, and perhaps most of all- the creation of such a wonderfully hazy atmosphere. Its really too bad that our society has been so thoroughly dumbed down artistically, that most people can’t or won’t appreciate the visual poetry of a film like A Bigger Splash. Stand out performance by Ralph Fiennes, but the entire cast was terrific. This is a mesmerizing and masterfully produced flick, easily one of the year’s best.


    • Hannah Wales says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a fantastic comment! I agree with you completely. It deserved to be seen by more people for sure



  1. […] became aware of Luca Guadagnino thanks to his excellent films A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name, so I was naturally going to check his remake of the 1977 Italian horror […]


  2. […] became aware of Luca Guadagnino thanks to his excellent films A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name, so I was naturally going to check his remake of the 1977 Italian horror […]


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