A Bigger Splash was conceived as a remake of the The Swimming Pool (Jacques Deray, 1969), in which Alain Delon and Romy Schneider play the happy couple Jean-Paul and Marianne, whose peace is shattered by Marianne’s former lover, Harry (Maurice Ronet). It is a film about personal rediscovery during a holiday break, and a murderous adultery is the catalyst. Whilst in the original version, Marianne was an actress, in Guadagnino’s film, Marianne (now played by Tilda Swinton) is a singer who lost her voice.
The word “infant” comes from Latin “infans”, and it means incapable of speech. Symbolically speaking, the circumstances force Marianne to travel back to her youth, a time with few responsibilities and also when she dated Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Harry was her music producer and the one who introduced her to Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). Harry is what Italians would call “solare”: a boisterous, extrovert and funny man, who regrets losing his lover to his friend. He becomes a persona non grata in their house.
The filmmaker constructs his movie in a way so that weather is to blame for the mood changes. Characters announce that the sirocco (a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara) will soon invade the island of Lampedusa, where they are spending their holidays. The sirocco is a harbinger of tragedy. In Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti, 1971), it brings plague and death to the main character.
In the original The Swimming Pool, the tension between the three grown-ups quickly reaches boiling point. It is a much darker and unbearable atmosphere than in this new version. The swimming pool is an insightful symbol of the vacant life of the bourgeoisie, while here it is more a site for relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, Fiennes is a overheated male and he spectacularly wild while dancing Rolling Stones’s ‘Emotional Rescue’. But indeed there is no emotional rescue. The movie is a mere escape to the deep woes of the wealthy.
Dakota Johnson plays Penelope, Harry’s daughter. There is a light insinuation of incestuous relationship here, but again Guadagnino prefers not to deep dive. Instead of providing the audience with a diving suit, which would surely offer a much bigger splash, the filmmaker chose a snorkel equipment.
More contemporary issues, like the African immigration to Italy, are just heard in the background. A new and more audacious touch to the original film is missing. Perhaps touching on the large waves of immigration to Lampedusa would work.
A Bigger Splash galvanises a partnership between Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton that has started in 1999, in Guadagnino’s debut film The Protagonists. She makes an unusual appearance as a sexy and exotic woman. The British actress spent nine years of her career working with Derek Jarman and has now moved to a more mainstream cinema, bringing her androgynous charm to it.
A Bigger Splash premiered in Venice last year and it was already presented in UK cinemas. Studiocanal released it on DVD and Blu-Ray on June 27th. DMovies is giving away three Blu-rays (or DVDs) of A Bigger Splash, as a courtesy of Studiocanal. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and answer the following question: “A Bigger Splash is a remake from which 1969 Franco-Italian erotic movie”? The winners will be announced in August on our Facebook page – follow us by clicking here and stay tuned. UK only.
Watch the film trailer here: