I hadn’t the slightest idea what this movie was about. I honest to God couldn’t put my finger on it. It opens with Tilda Swinton being this big rock star, then she’s on vacation with her… husband? Boyfriend? Then Ralph Fiennes shows up with his bearded English face introducing his very American daughter, Dakota Johnson. The rest of the trailer just looks like an excuse to be on vacation with Johnson acting like a slut, but written to be deep and philosophical… ugh, I was betting this character would annoy the piss out of me. But all in all, with acting heavy-weights like Swinton and Fiennes, I figured this film would do alright. So without further adieu, this is my honest opinion of A BIGGER SPLASH.
The story follows former rock star Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton) and her lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) on vacation when they’re paid a visit by their eccentric mutual friend and Marianne’s former lover, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter Penny (Dakota Johnson). What follows is a series of events of how Harry’s fun-loving nature begins to wear on everyone’s patience and possibly overstaying his welcome.
It’s funny. When I went to see THE DARKNESS, my co-worker told me, “Don’t waste a free pass on this one.” Boy howdy, he had no idea what he was talking about. This film is atrociously and horrendously boring beyond comprehension. I mean, look at the chosen banner up top. Look at all the praise these critics, magazines, and sites are giving this thing. The only thing I want to put up there is a ton of arrows point to every quote with mine saying, “Bullshit! What movie were you guys watching?”
What can I possibly start with?
Marianne is supposed to be this big rock star, playing to an incredibly large crowd. This feels completely pointless as this is the most we ever see of her as a rock star. At no point does Marianne sing in the movie. Hell, Swinton barely has a line of dialog throughout the movie. What we are given is a brief flashback to when Marianne and Harry are doing drugs together. I won’t say that her fame hasn’t played a part in the story at times, but it’s always for pointless shit or for reasons that could easily have been switched out with a different profession. Like a famous novelist. Why did Marianne have to be a singer if the story was never going to allow her to sing? When did you see a movie about a person who sings and doesn’t sing in the story? You don’t. Why? Because if you have a singing character, they sing. Marianne never sings. For a character labeled as “the woman of the century” by Harry (whom I plan to seriously rip a new one in a minute) she doesn’t do anything deep or meaningful in the story other than react to everyone’s bullshit, show off a tittie or two, and that’s it.
Plus, this story barely makes any sense. Harry is supposed to be this former lover of Marianne’s; her agent, or producer, or whatever. He’s eccentric and weird and, never thought this could exist, way too free-spirited. In short, he’s a handful and a pain in the ass. So while Marianne and Paul are on vacation in Italy… somehow, someway, he just magically appears in Italy right where they’re staying. What are the fucking chances?! From the moment Harry enters the picture, he’s loud and obnoxious and maintains this growing migraine in my head. Horror movie characters from unknown or subpar actors are expected to annoy the crap out of me. I go in full on ready for it. But this… this is not what I expected from an acting great like Fiennes. Oh sure, he’s played weird characters before, but I’ve never seen him act so… unbearable before. And I know what some of you are thinking, “That’s the point of his character!” I’m sure that’s what the writers were telling themselves, but… what does his annoyance amount to? What about him makes him sympathetic, or in any way likable? He doesn’t do anything in this story other than impose himself in this couple’s lives, gets into trouble and expects everyone to get him out of it, and seems to be hellbent on stealing Marianne from Paul. Why? This isn’t explored in any way. He had her when she was at the peak of her fame and yet he let her go because… reasons. Not only let her go, but practically gift-wrapped her to the man he defined as his best friend. Again, why? Before propositioning the idea of these two going out, they hadn’t even met. And by the end of it all, why does he want her back? What’s missing in his life that he needed her back so much? A year ago, he got in touch with a daughter he didn’t know he had (whom I will get into later). He seems rather taken her (something else I’ll get into later), so why isn’t that enough to sate his needs. Even if the argument could be made that Penny wouldn’t be enough, put some more milage on this relationship before being such a selfish fuck that he needs to steal the woman back from the best friend he gave her to in the first place. And why is there no acknowledgement of her happiness? She’s happy with him. They have a happy and healthy relationship. Why does he not acknowledge that he’s trying to ruin that as well as his friendships. All for a woman who doesn’t even want to be with him.
And yet, the guy is persistent and she even kind of falls for it, allowing him to almost fuck her. How did it even get that far. Once again, Marianne is happy with Paul. They don’t fight, they barely disagree beyond the norm, she has no reason to cheat on Paul.
For god’s sake, even when Paul and Harry are together, even Paul can’t stand him. He acknowledges how mind-numbingly stupid he acts and he just allows him to stay with him and Marianne. How does Paul not know what their relationship used to be like? He knew Harry from way back when. If they were best friends, Paul would know of Harry’s vices and being married to Marianne would be able to fill in the blanks of what kind of effect Harry had on her. Fast-forward to the present, Harry has not changed in the slightest. I might understand this unspoken “duty” to hang out with a trouble-friend, but if that same trouble-friend made a flight to Italy from does-it-matter-where and didn’t have the foresight to book a hotel room, that’s his shit. Fine, I would allow him to stay for as long as he’d need to find a room, but not for the duration of his stay.
Oh god, I haven’t tackled his daughter, Penny, yet. Ugh, alright, so Penny isn’t the philosoph-whore that I thought she’d be (or at least, she so horribly written to be that I didn’t register it as such), but she’s not any less annoying either. First of all, all she does in the movie is lay around near the pool and does the following things in the movie: show off her rail thin body in an itty bitty bikini that does not hide her nipples, ogle over Paul, make venomous and judgmental looks at Marianne, and completely ignore her father. Seriously, what’s the point of her character? What does she contribute to the story? She’s not some anchor for Harry’s humanity to be a better person and she doesn’t seem to care that she’s around him or anyone. She’s just a hot piece of ass to be paraded around the screen to keep every dick hard, it’s infuriating. It’s no ineffective, but it serves no purpose to the narrative that this movie thinks it has. Sure, she has a “twist” about her that’s revealed at the end of the movie, but again, what does it mean or amount to that the audience needs to care about?
Earlier in the movie, she tells Marianne that she’s twenty-something, but in the end, we discover that she’s a minor: seventeen years old. Um… okay, this isn’t exactly the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK twist that shakes up the future for Luke Skywalker. Penny lied about her age. So the fuck what? I don’t believe for a second that Paul cheated on Marianne when he and Penny went to that spring place because he’s happy with Marianne. Even if he did, again, that makes no sense, and even the movie doesn’t give much of a shit because Paul kills Harry and gets away with it. You’d think if there was even a chance that having sex with a minor, a significantly more troubling issue than infidelity, would be more impactful in this story.
Oh, and she can speak Italian… fluently. She never made any sign that she could speak the language. And while everyone’s struggling to communicate with the natives, she ignores it. Granted, this is addressed, but the motivations are dumb. She just “wants to be left alone.” What the fuck does that mean? You were alone, you stupid bitch. No one was imposing on your life other than your dad and you seemed like you had options to go anywhere else other than with him. And for her bitchiness, Marianne slaps her. A slap that Penny almost seems impressed with. This is made completely confusing when she’s hopping aboard the plane to take her home when she’s walking up the steps crying and looking back for a now-gone Paul and Marianne. Where did those tears come from? Does she feel bad for what she did? When did she ever feel bad about anything that she ever did?! We’re never shown any measure of humanity from her. Why show it now?
This is the ultimate problem with the movie. Half of its cast of characters, Harry and Penny, are disgustingly unlikable, and the other half, Paul and Marianne, are remarkably uninteresting. When this happens in a movie, it’s boring. That’s the cardinal sin of this flick: BORING. At no point did I think to myself, “Ooo, I’m interested in this series of events,” or, “Yay, we’re exploring this character more.” No, I’m pinching myself to stay awake, which I had to fight to do. By the ninety minute mark, I was borderline crying for this movie to end. I’m not a religious man, but I was praying to God, Allah, Jesus, Santa Claus, anyone that would put this movie (or me) out of its misery and just… fucking… end. I’m pretty sure in my race to get out of the auditorium, I knocked over an old lady. I’m sorry, but I was plotting a beeline for the exit for twenty minutes and I would be damned if I didn’t execute it.
I don’t care if you’re a fan of the cast, there’s nothing here for you. Swinton and Fiennes have careers that speak volumes and this movie should be put out of your mind. This will be a movie that no one will remember, or in my case, remember for all the horribly wrong reasons. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FILM!!! Stay away, save your gas, save your cash. Save it for groceries and bills. Not this.
My honest rating: 1/5
PS: No, I didn’t knock over an old lady while trying to exit my theatre. I did desperately scramble, though.
That’s it for the week. Heads up for next week, some things are happening in my personal life and reviews may come less frequent. Hopefully, this won’t cut into my movie watching too badly, but still, heads up to everyone.