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Bigger Splash, A


Stars: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson, Aurore Clément, Lily McMenamy

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Not even a fiercely naturalistic performance from Fiennes can save this sordid sun-and-sex saga, based on a rather better French film, La Piscine/The Swimming Pool. Sixty years ago, perhaps with Brigitte Bardot in the nymphette role, here played by Johnson, it might been dubbed, trimmed and dumped on the UK market as Isle of Desire.

The island in question on this occasion is Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, where a rented villa houses Marianne (Swinton), a leggy veteran rock star recovering from a throat operation, which has deprived her of her voice, and her current partner Paul (Schoenaerts), a filmmaker still recovering from a failed suicide attempt that occurred before he met her.

Their daily diet of sex and more sex is interrupted by the arrival of Marianne's former partner, a force of nature called Harry Hawkes (Fiennes), bringing with him his newly-discovered daughter Pen (Johnson), who says she's 22...

It's quickly apparent that Harry intends to win Marianne back, and the scriptwriters do their best to help him, improbably splitting up the partners so that Harry spends time with Marianne and Paul is seduced by Pen. 'My trouble,' pouts Johnson, 'is that I fall in love with every pretty thing.'

All this takes forever to come to a head, so to speak, and you may wish for a fast-forward button in the arm of your cinema seat, as director Guadagnino takes us leisurely through the countryside and its environs, with occasional culinary sidesteps, before getting to the main course.

David Quinlan

Italy/France 2015. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by Chromatica.
124 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 09 Feb 2016