A-Z Movie Reviews: ‘A Bigger Splash’

Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews.  Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection.  How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z).  Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection but this is mine so don’t judge me.  This is simply for fun. 


I love Dakota Johnson.  I think her acting is amazing and she is captivating onscreen in everything she does, especially in Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash.

The film which is based on the 1969 movie La Piscine, tells the story of famous rock star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) who while on an Italian vacation, have their solace interrupted by an old friend and his daughter.

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That is putting it mildly.

Mariannes friend Harry (Ralph Fiennes) is more than just a friend, he’s her old lover.  Talk about awkward right?  It gets even more awkward than that, he is actually the one who hooked Paul up with Marianne and now that he sees she’s happy, he wants her back.

When Marianne and Harry were together, they lived a wild and fast life full of booze and drugs, and their relationship was pretty toxic.  With Paul, she’s calmer and they’re just happy to be alone with each other.

Paul is dealing with demons of his own though.  He is now one year sober and survived a suicide attempt.  Harry being around is a constant reminder of the past and that makes him resent him even more.  Paul doesn’t understand why Harry came to Pantelleria in the first place so his only conclusion is that Harry wants to ruin his relationship with Marianne.

To make matters even worse, Harry’s daughter Penelope (Johnson) is a bit of a troublemaker.

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When Harry first introduces Penelope to Marianne and Paul, he says “She seems shy but she is a lovely bitch.”  Penelope is neither shy or lovely, she is however a huge bitch and she doesn’t give a fuck.  From the time she steps off the plane, she begins to spin a web of lies starting with her age.

She claims she’s 22 but later we find out she’s actually only 17.  It’s interesting because while I watched this film again, I really noticed her immaturity.  One minute she would be doing something a 22 year old would do and then the next, she would be doing something childish.  A perfect example is the scene when she’s playing in the swimming pool trying to get Paul to watch her.

Her attempts to grab his attention are very childlike particularly when she tells him to toss a chair in the pool because she “needs a shipwreck.”  Paul tries not to let Penelope get to him but he eventually gives into temptation and sleeps with her (FYI, this happens before he knows her real age).

While all of this is happening, Marianne and Harry are growing closer again and they sorta have sex, I say sorta because Marianne stops it.  She lets Harry know she still loves him but she makes it clear she loves Paul more.

All of this secrecy and deception ends in a pretty shocking conclusion and everyone’s lives are forever changed.

A Bigger Splash is a cinematic masterpiece with a beautiful setting.  Luca Guadagnino is an amazing director and the cast will keep you drawn in from beginning to end.

A Bigger Splash is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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