Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases,the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster” and the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash.”
“I like to do peculiar,” says A Bigger Splash director Luca Guadagnino. “It’s great to do peculiar.”
The Italian filmmaker is talking about his relationship with Tilda Swinton, star of four of his feature films. In their latest collaboration she plays a rock star recuperating from throat surgery with her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) on a remote island halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. Their tranquil time, however, is shattered by the arrival of Harry (Ralph Fiennes) her former record producer and lover and his Lolita-esque daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Soon into the visit the sunny Mediterranean days take a dark turn as their shared histories bring up some ghosts from the past.
In the new film Guadagnino throws a peculiar twist Swinton’s way by making her character largely mute, forcing her to rely solely on her face and eyes to complete the character.
“We are very dear friends,” he says of Swinton. “We love one another completely. The pleasure of one another’s company is so strong, so unstoppable. Also Tilda is such a courageous performer. That combination makes everyday an adventure, new and funny and tough and great. Also, I think what we do together is very peculiar.”
Swinton is spectacular but A Bigger Splash is worth the price of admission just to see Ralph Fiennes, Lord Voldemort himself, strut his stuff to disco era Rolling Stones.
“I am a big fan of Ralph Fiennes,” says Guadagnino. “I have been loving him since I saw him in Schindler’s List. I saw him in the trailer for the Grand Budapest Hotel and I found this kind of levity that made me think he’d be
perfect for Harry.”
In one long scene Fiennes unleashes some of the wildest dance moves since Elaine Benes in what must be his loosest on-screen performance ever.
“Everything started with the brilliant script by David Kajganich and the description of how this man loses himself to the dance,” says the director.
“Starting from there Ralph proposed to me to work with a choreographer from London. We met her and decided it was good for her to let Ralph find something wild within him. Let him be loose with his own body and have confidence with his own movements. I described the world the choreographer and Ralph went into as psychoanalytical choreography. It was about unleashing and having the confidence to unleash. It wasn’t choreography that was staged gesture by gesture. It was about creating that flow.”
A Bigger Splash is a romp — a lusty and lurid thriller with worldly people, drugs, drinking and some startling nudity.
The film’s nakedness, Guadagnino says, “is about being truthful to the story you are telling and the characters you are depicting. We are talking about four people on an island entangled in the web of desire. People who come from rock and roll, people who come from a sort of elite world, people who are completely liberated in their own skin even though they are completely chained by their passion. They are people who get naked. For me it is not a contrivance. It is the answer to the question, What would they wear in a place like that, doing things the way they do?”
Next time around, however, don’t expect as much skin. “I can’t wait to make a Victorian movie with people dressed all the way up to their necks,” he laughs.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson kick around the weekend’s big releases, the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster,” the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash” and the Scottish drama “Sunset Song.”
In 1969 the Alain Delon potboiler “La Piscine” (“The Swimming Pool”) had a look at beautiful people and sexual jealousy set against the backdrop of the Côte d’Azur. Forty-five years later director Luca Guadagnino makes the story his own, transplanting the characters to a remote island halfway between Sicily and Tunisia, replacing jealousy with desire and setting the whole thing to the slinky beat of The Rolling Stones’ “Emotional Rescue.” “A Bigger Splash” keeps the swimming pool but reinvents the rest of the story.
Rock star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) are living a quiet life on the coast of Italy. Very quiet. She is recuperating from surgery and can’t speak. Their tranquil time, however, is shattered by the arrival of Harry (Ralph Fiennes), Lane’s former record producer and lover, and his Lolita-esque daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). He’s an impulsive first-one-in-the-pool, free spirit who invites strangers over to hang out (“You’re not speaking sweetheart so I had to make other plans!” he says.), she’s a flirty presence who says things like, “My trouble is, I fall in love with every pretty thing.” A day or so into the visit the sunny Mediterranean days take a dark turn as their shared history brings up some ghosts from the past.
“A Bigger Splash” is worth the price of admission just to see Ralph Fiennes, Lord Voldemort himself, strutting his stuff to disco era Rolling Stones. He unleashes some of the goofiest dance moves since Elaine Benes in what must be his loosest performance ever.
Come for the dancing, stay for the bawdy and boisterous atmosphere. The idyllic, sun dappled backdrop plays at odds with the noirish story as Guadagnino brushes his canvas with sexual tension, slowly adding layers to the story as he builds up to a startling climax. It’s a romp, with worldly people, loads of nudity, drugs and drinking, until it isn’t and the time comes to pay the price of living a wild life without regrets. As the characters manipulate one another Guadagnino manipulates the audience with flamboyant filmmaking, unexpected jump cuts and zooms, which demand your attention.
A strong cast—this is Fiennes’s showcase but Schoenaerts anchors the foursome with brooding, if bland work while Johnson smoulders and Swinton pulls off a mostly silent performance with artful facial expressions—holds interest when they are behaving like the entitled folks they are and even more when it starts to crumble.
Playing out in the background are examples of Europe’s ongoing migrant crisis that stand in stark contrast to the lives of luxury lead by the leads. Guadagnino doesn’t make direct commentary on the situation—in fact he doesn’t take a stance on any of the behaviour on display—but instead subtly suggests that we—and the characters, specifically a police inspector—are more interested in the story’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll than the plight of the Tunisian refugees.
“A Bigger Splash” could have swum in the shallow end of the pool, but subtly and interestingly goes off the deep end.
An elegant period piece about Charles Dickens and his mistress, starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes, comes with great expectations, most of which, unfortunately are not met.
When “The Invisible Woman” begins Charles Dickens (Fiennes) is the Justin Bieber of his day. He’s fabulously famous and wealthy thanks to his best selling books and stage appearances.
Married with children, his life becomes a tale of two women when a seventeen-year-old actress named Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones) is cast in one of his plays. Infatuated with the young woman the “David Copperfield” author begins a long-running, but secret affair with her that lasted until his death.
Younger viewers might wonder why Lord Voldemort is traipsing around London in a top hat and spats but the range of his performance will strike older viewers, familiar with Fiennes’s brooding work. His physical resemblance to the writer is remarkable, but it is the arc of the character, from charismatic celebrity to love sick puppy to Victorian rascal that really impresses.
Ditto the work of Joanna Scanlan as the long-suffering Catherine Dickens. She’s the mother of Dickens’s children, and a good and loyal person who becomes one of the invisible women in the author’s life as he falls deeper in love with Nelly. She hands in a wonderfully sympathetic performance rich with pathos and sadness.
Too bad these two stand-out performances are wrapped around a terribly dull film. With none of the crackle of Fiennes’s last directorial work “Coriolanus,” it’s a wealth of period details and sure handed direction but it plays like a tedious episode of “Masterpiece Theatre” broadcast by the BBC, which in this case would stand for Boring British Channel.
The story of a life-changing love affair is presented almost completely without passion and bookended by a sidebar of Nellie as an adult, still pining for her lost lover. Or, as it is presented in the film, staring off into the distance. As a viewer you hope the Ghost of Dickens Past will appear to snap out of her endless funk.
Ultimately “The Invisible Woman” could have used a little more TMZ and a little less BBC.