Movie News & Reviews

‘A Bigger Splash’: Top cast can’t save the story

Matthias Schoenaerts, left, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson and Ralph Fiennes star in “A Bigger Splash.”
Matthias Schoenaerts, left, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson and Ralph Fiennes star in “A Bigger Splash.” Fox Searchlight Pictures

It’s not a big surprise to see Tilda Swinton playing a David Bowie-esque rock star. The eccentric actress should have Ziggy Stardust as her personal theme song.

In A Bigger Splash, she plays rock diva Marianne, recovering from throat surgery and almost unable to produce a vocal sound. Swinton has a near-supernatural ability to project a glitter-glam personality without uttering a word.

More remarkable is Ralph Fiennes as her id-driven studio producer, mentor and former lover. This unwelcome visitor from the past has returned aiming to kick-start a reunion tour of their erotic glory days. Fiennes fires off aren’t-I-charming dialogue so fast you might forget that Swinton has gone silent.

That’s a major tonal shift as he boogies around her Mediterranean villa like a teenager on an aphrodisiac overdose. It’s complicated further by the turned-on teenager (girlfriend? daughter?) he brings with him, and the resentment felt by Matthias Schoenaerts as Swinton’s longtime flame.

The often gentlemanly Fiennes clearly has a blast playing a revved-up sensualist, Swinton’s screen magnetism never dims, and Schoenaertssharply plays off both co-stars with a sensitive, lucid performance. It’s a solid-gold cast, yet the film feels less than bronze, maybe wooden.

Movie review

‘A Bigger Splash’

Rated R for graphic nudity, some strong sexual content, language and brief drug use. In English and subtitled Italian. 2:05. Kentucky.

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