"Failed, Overly Graphic Morality Tale"
What You Need To Know:
A BIGGER SPLASH is very well acted. Also, the cinematography is excellent, and several dramatic scenes are very well done as well as insightful. However, the whole doesn’t line up with these parts. Some character motivations don’t seem to make much sense, and the ending doesn’t quite work. Worse, however, A BIGGER SPLASH has a strong pagan worldview where people get away with covering up a murder of passion. A BIGGER SPLASH also contains excessive and gratuitous foul language, nudity and explicit sex scenes. A BIGGER SPLASH apparently tries to be a morality tale, but that moral gets lost during the ending.
(PaPaPa, C, B, LLL, VV, SSS, NNN, AA, DD, MMM) Very strong pagan worldview where three people get away with behaving very badly while they cover up a murderous crime of passion, and the main police detective eventually seems to care more about hobnobbing with one of the three people, a rock music celebrity, than seriously investigating the mysterious death of another character, plus a scene shows a Christian religious procession during a special festival, and there is the slightest hint of some very light moral elements in the story, but not enough to make the movie begin to be satisfying; at least 73 or 74 obscenities (mostly “f” and “s” words), five strong profanities and three light profanities; intense fighting scene breaks out during an argument next to a pool, and a character ends up being strangled to death in a fit of passion during the fight, and there are images of the dead body afterwards at the bottom of the pool before and after the police drain the water; several scenes of depicted fornication, 21-year-old woman takes off her clothes and beckons older man to join her in fornication but scene cuts away, and it’s never revealed if they fornicated or not, but later it turns out the girl lied about her age and is only 17, young woman’s long-lost father is accused of engaging in incest with her after they have finally met, but he firmly denies it, and there’s no indication it’s occurred, and some crude sexual comments; full frontal female nudity from a distance, images of full frontal male nudity when man takes off all his clothes at poolside and eventually dives in, multiple shots of upper female nudity, some rear male nudity, and some upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and brief drug use; and, strong miscellaneous immorality includes woman’s ex-lover tries to break up her current relationship, cheating, girl lies about her age, policeman’s obsession with celebrity interferes with his job, people cover up a manslaughter or second degree murder, and other miscellaneous bad behavior.
A BIGGER SPLASH is based on a 1970 French movie. It tells the story of a female rock star resting on an island after a throat operation with her boyfriend when her former lover, and former manager, suddenly arrives in a secret effort to win her back. Ultimately, despite some excellent acting and nice cinematography, A BIGGER SPALSH fails to be the kind of morality tale it could have been and contains lots of gratuitous, graphic foul language, sex and nudity.
The movie opens with a female rock star, Marianne Lane, who’s recuperating on Italy’s volcanic island of Pantelleria with her live-in boyfriend, Paul. Unexpectedly, her former lover and former manager, Harry, arrives on the island with his beautiful newfound daughter, Penelope, who says she’s 21. Soon, it becomes clear that Harry regrets letting Marianne come (he even set her up with Paul, a photographer). A dangerous, intense triangle and undercurrent of regret, desire, jealousy, and unconscious rage ensues.
A BIGGER SPLASH is very well acted, especially by Ralph (“Rafe”) Fiennes (“Fine”), who plays the former lover and manager. Also, the cinematography is excellent, and several dramatic scenes are very well done as well as insightful. However, the whole doesn’t line up with these parts. Some character motivations don’t seem to make much sense, and may even be seen as kind of stupid. Also, the resolution of the love triangle could be even more dramatic and emotionally powerful. Worse, the movie contains lots of excessive foul language, sex and nudity. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] In addition, three of the four main characters get away with behaving very badly while they also cover up a murderous crime of passion. To top it off, the main police detective investigating the crime that occurs eventually seems to care more about hobnobbing with the rock star than seriously investigating the mysterious death of another character.
If the filmmakers behind A BIGGER SPLASH think they are offering viewers some kind of morality tale, they should think again. Because A BIGGER SPLASH sometimes seems like it could be a warning about the dangers of jeolousy and selfishness, but it ultimately fails. In fact, many viewers after watching A BIGGER SPLASH might come away wondering what’s the moral of this story being told here. The problem is, it’s not really clear. Sad to say, not even the statements by the filmmakers in the production notes give much of a clue, even though it’s certainly possible to derive some kind of moral lessons from the story, but lessons that viewers will have to insert themselves into the drama that unfolds before their eyes and ears.
Now, some might say the movie’s opaque meaning is a sign of great artistic subtlety and nuance, but in reality, there are only two or three scenes here that stand out in this regard. They simply aren’t enough, especially since the filmmakers don’t seem to take full advantage of them as they should have. Consequently, in the end, though the characters seem to be offered a chance to derive some kind of lesson about what happens to them during the course of this story, the movie gives no indication that they’ve actually applied any such lessons to their lives. In fact, the ending just seems to play itself out in a superficial, non-impactful way, on both the characters and the viewer.
It’s hard, if not impossible, therefore, to commend A BIGGER SPLASH to any moviegoer, including moviegoers who enjoy well-acted, nicely photographed character studies like this one. So, any artistry that A BIGGER SPLASH does display eventually seems to go for naught. One character ends up dead, and another character ends up crying alone, but the other characters eventually just go their merry way, without being affected by what happens whatsoever, even though earlier scenes suggest that they were affected in some way. Could THAT be the point of the movie? Who knows??? The filmmakers don’t give viewers enough clues, even to those viewers, who might find any of the characters worth their time and hard-earned money.
At any rate, it’s the plot, some of the characterizations and the excessive offensive content that derails A BIGGER SPLASH. In the end, the movie probably won’t make much of a splash when it comes to movie history, much less the box office.