Luca Guadagnino‘s A Bigger Splash (Fox Searchlight, 5.13) is a noirish Mediterranean hothouse thing — a not-especially-sordid sex and betrayal story that builds so slowly and languidly it feels like there’s nothing going on except for the vibe, and honestly? It’s so lulling and flavorful and swoony and sun-baked that you just give in to it. The undercurrent is…well, gently mesmerizing, and that was enough for me. I can’t wait to see it again, or more precisely go there again. I felt like I was savoring a brief vacation. I’m not saying the dramatic ingredients are secondary, but they almost are.
The title comes from a David Hockney painting, and that in itself should tell you where Guadagnino is coming from. A Bigger Splash is about island vibes and coolness and louche attitudes and to some extent the splendor of the druggy days, and particularly the legend of the Rolling Stones.
This is Guadagnino’s second collaboration with Tilda Swinton after I Am Love, the Milan-set family drama that opened seven years ago, and the newbie is…I don’t what it is exactly.
In my mind the island of Pantelleria, which is halfway between Tunisia and the southwest coast of Sicily, isn’t just the setting but a kind of lead character. It colors and tonalizes and blows little mood gusts.
Swinton plays Marianne, a late 40ish rock star (a sort of female David Bowie type) who’s vacationing there with boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts), a distinctly younger fellow who’s a rock-industry photographer/filmmaker.