A Bigger Splash sees a manic, nude Ralph Fiennes on the form of his life

James Luxford
Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton in A Bigger Splash

Dir. Luca Guadagnino | ★★★★

This sun-drenched comedy-thriller was one of the highlights of last year's Venice Film Festival. Tilda Swinton plays Marianne, a global rock star whose quiet life on an Italian island with her lover (Matthias Schoenaerts) is shattered by the arrival of Harry (Ralph Fiennes), Marianne's record producer ex, and his newly discovered daughter (Dakota Johnson).

Luca Guadagnino, following up 2010’s I Am Love, crafts a study of jealousy and desire, with simple, comedic awkwardness quickly switching to foreboding. His characters desperately try to evade their past, with Harry in the centre mercilessly poking at old wounds.

It's a treasure trove of performances, led by a manic, singing, nude Fiennes. Schoenaerts is the perfect counter-balance, as the broody documentarian trying to be the angel on Marianne's shoulder. Regular Guadagnino collaborator Swinton doesn't say much (her character is recovering from throat surgery), but manages to be mesmerising with a series of gestures and whispered lines.

From the moment the unexpected guests arrive, you know it’s all going to end in tears, but that’s what makes it so captivating.

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