Revisiting the stunning 1969 “La Piscine” directed by Jacques Deray or 2003’s “The Swimming Pool” directed by Francois Ozon and starring the inimitable Charlotte Rampling; this version unfortunately does not have the energy and potency of a “bigger splash”.
Androgynously elegant Tilda Swinton plays “Marianne Lane” a rock star at the “Prince” level recuperating from throat surgery on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria with boyfriend “Paul” (Matthias Schoenaerts in a subtle, sorrowful performance); when ex-boyfriend “Harry” (a well-toned Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter “Penelope” (droll Dakota Johnson) surprise the tightly, erotically connected couple.
Director Luca Guadagnino (“I Am Love”, classic favorite of mine) captures the luscious, sensual appeal of sizzling, sun-poached days, dusty, wind-fractured moments, and at its core a swimming pool, a harbinger of what is to come. The soundtrack, featuring “The Rolling Stones”, “Robert Mitchum”, “Chrisma” is sensational and adds scintillating volumes to the narrative.
Pungent ingredients of jealousy, insecurity, lust (symbolized by the snake, ultimate metaphor for the demise of the “Garden of Eden”) all meticulously woven by Guadagnino into the predictable scenario.
Harry’s manufactured ebullience morphs into annoyance; Marianne’s silence lends solid credibility to “A Bigger Splash”; Paul’s choices are enigmatic; Penelope lacks the magnetic allure of a destructive femme fatale.
Beautiful to view, musically enchanting, powerfully portrayed; sadly, bereft of the electricity needed for greatness.