I just saw A bigger splash by Luca Guadagnino, a remake of the french classic and erotic thriller La piscine (F 1969) by Jacques Deray. It has been a while since I have seen La piscine and also the first remake of it, Swimming Pool (F 2003) by Francois Ozon, and I surely don' t remember all details of them. La piscine is about a quite dull couple which passes the summer in a house with a swimming pool in Southern France and gets disturbed by a friend and his teenager daughter who get self invited to their place. Swimming Pool presents the protagonist as a succesful british crime novel writer who gets disturbed during her vacation in Southern France by the french speaking daughter of her publisher and lover. In A bigger splash the couple is interesting, especially the woman, a rock star who passes the summer in Italy. They get disturbed by a friend and his italian speaking daughter. And for this A bigger splash is also not only a remake, but a remake of the remake, although strictly spoken it is "inspired" by La Piscine and "influenced" by Swimming Pool. And it is probably a better movie than both of them each or together.
A bigger splash on first sight is a glamourous remake and in some aspects as the location, the soundtrack, the suspense and the psychographic profile of the character of Marianne better than the original movie back in the sixties, when the legendary, super-erotic ex-couple in life of Rommy Schneider, as Marianne, and Alain Delon, as Jean-Paul, played the first roles. Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton has never had this explosive sex appeal that Schneider had in La piscine especially accompanied by Delon. But this is somehow irrelevant, although there are quite a lot of erotic scenes in the movie. The glamour she gives to the movie with her appearance, is one that results of her naturally fragile looks, the pale complexion with a touch of sun gold, the perfect style and the contrast to her former life as a sex-drugs-and-rock´n´roll androgyne star, Marianne, who lives for six years clean and happy with the probably younger photographer Paul, played by Matthias Schoenaerts. The latter is an actor, who will definitely enter with this movie to the list of most wanted male actors, if not already with the previous one, as we have the voyeuristic pleasure to see him in almost the whole movie perfectly athletic and half nacked, sweating under the sun and the scirocco from the Sahara, suffering somehow and not letting us guess his dark secrets. Also his former friend and now love rival, the ex boyfriend of Marianne, Harry, played by the charismatic Ralph Fiennes, with the probably best performace in A bigger splash, reveales his handsome and sun bathed body fully, by throwing away his clothes constantly, spontaneously but deliberatelly to impress his object of desire.
The photography is splendid, capturing the heat of the summer not in Southern France, but in Pantelleria, an italian island near North Africa, a better location for sure, as small islands are the better places for these kind of erotic thrillers, where nature, the sea and the heat surround the struggling couples without providing any escape, until death comes along, as also in this erotic thriller. The original soundtrack is for sure excellent, focussing in Rolling Stones' expressionism, contrasting the non dialogue-oriented movie, as Marianne is, after a surgery in her vocal cords, not allowed to talk for medical reasons, and flanking the sex-drugs-and rock´n´roll atmosphere as an inner mood of the characters. The whole movie is grounded on contrasts:
- the peaceful and happy couple versus the void, jealous and vain friend and his trashy almost slutty daughter;
- the pale, scraggy, controlled and predictable women versus the sun bathed, athletic, impulsive and erratic men;
- the flawless, experienced, loving, perfectly styled famous middle-aged woman versus the selfish, disturbing, childish and badly dyed and dressed teenager;
- the mysterious Paul, who doesn't express his thoughts or feelings, not even, when he tried to take his life some years before, and Penelope, who speaks Italian, but keeps it secret together with her sorrow versus the super expressive Harry and the well known and open book Marianne
- and finally the idyllic island and its tourists vs. its illegal migrants kept in detention in the police station. Although this last contrast is shown very little and has no relevance in the plot.
The german dubbed version presents Tilda Swinton whispering, when she talks, the audience understands that she has lost her voice and probably her career will not continue. In the english one she has actually a voice, but doesn´t talk due to the medical instructions and because she probably doesn´t want to talk or sing anymore. This explains several scenes, that don´t work so well in the german version.
If you get the answer to my question, I will be happy to hear them. Have fun with this awarded summer movie. A taste of the soundtrack comes now, the Rolling Stones and their Emotional Rescue (1980).