Saturday, 10 October 2015

LFF REVIEW - A BIGGER SPLASH (LUCA GUADAGNINO)


When the fun stops, the film stops, or so it seems. Luca Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash is all a pretty good time until it isn't, but David Kajganich's script has more up its sleeve than the basic narrative significance of its third act surprise. Guadagnino has fun forecasting this, which is stronger on tone than delivery, and though it may not reveal as much about its characters as it wishes to, it makes sense for these characters, and allows the film to finish in a manner that's unexpectedly intelligent in how it ties up threads that had previously been permitted to lie as loose as they liked. A Bigger Splash is this loose in style and in every other respect for the first 90 minutes or so, and it's so much fun (it's almost all fun!) that it can't help but lose a little of its verve when the plot tightens up. As with all twists or turns, it's better to analyse from the back end, but A Bigger Splash is more pleasant to experience and more flattering to recall from the front. The film is literally about the joy of food, of sex, of sunshine, of celebrity, of the wealthy way of life lived by its central characters (crucially, only these characters); it's also literal in this joy, insisting that we engage directly with it, dance along to its soundtrack, salivate at its dishes, ogle a barely-veiled nipple or an up-short shot that gleefully, salaciously strays a little too far - if nothing else, A Bigger Splash is the best treatise on the beauty of the human leg that cinema has produced. Guadagnino's film is almost like what John Cassavetes might have made if he'd been more interested in bodies than faces. The high society satire that it evolves into is truer, more genuine than it feels, but the fact that it doesn't feel that way is one part testament to the slight weakness in its development, nine parts testament to the unabashed joyfulness of this film. It encourages you not to care even about itself, and that's a most infectiously carefree attitude to take.