Diving into theaters on May 4th, A Bigger Splash is surely something that you won’t be wanting to miss in theaters this year. What at first starts off as a wondrous hangout film, as director Luca Guadagnino eats up every ounce of his Italian-set landscape, turns into something so captivatingly unexpected that you’ll be itching to see it again as soon as the credits begin to roll. Everything from Guadagnino’s rich understanding of space to his utilization of his 1.85:1 aspect ratio is some of the best I’ve seen in recent years. His striking compositions appropriate every square inch of the frame. Guadagnino draws out our focus to specific parts of the screen to focus on the emotive mannerisms and expressions of the ensemble. With Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton, and Ralph Fiennes at the helm of the film, it’s really no surprise that A Bigger Splash is one of the best films that we’ll be seeing all year long.
There’s something so geometrically intriguing about A Bigger Splash that it’s going to take another viewing or two for me to fully crack. Guadagnino opens up his film with Swinton and Schoenaerts laying down together on an uninhabited beach. With only the sounds of the water to be heard, the generic iPhone ringtone draws back the two into reality when Fiennes calls on the other line telling Swinton that he’s just landing at the nearby airport as the sound of the plane begins to gradually increase. Arriving alongside of Dakota Johnson, his daughter whom he only just met a year ago, the group go out to dinner at a remote outside eatery surrounded by the gorgeous Italian landscape. Guadagnino now presenting the four of them together begins to set in this feeling of comfortability within the quartet of actors. There seems to be this sense of restraint when working with even numbers in the film. Even during scenes of unrest between Fiennes and Swinton, there’s always this feeling of control within the frame that’s so laser-focused on Guadagnino’s characters.
Guadagnino works within pairs for most of the film, as he explores each of the characters’ relationships with one another. Fully fleshing out each relationship, Guadagnino manages to encompass one of the most inclusive portraits of a group of people in such a small amount of time that most television series in one season would never get to by the finale. During the climatic scene at the pool that sets the third act in motion, there’s much more of a frequent implementation of an odd number of bodies on the screen than there ever was before. Whether it be Matthias hectically roaming the estate or Johnson, Schoenaerts, and Swinton driving together, there’s this increased sense of focus on what’s surrounding them and not as much on the relationships themselves. It’s not until the final moments that the starting pair gets their much-needed peace that they’ve been so desperately seeking throughout the entire film. There is this sense of unity between Schoenaerts, and Swinton from starting point of A Bigger Splash when the two are just lying next to each other the beach that isn’t restored until the final moments when the pair is at last freed from the burden of company.