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A Bigger Splash review: Depths of desire explored in tale of love and betrayal

(15, 124 mins)

Published 12/02/2016

Bikini babe: Dakota Johnson stars in A Bigger Splash
Bikini babe: Dakota Johnson stars in A Bigger Splash

Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton plays glam rock doyenne Marianne Lane, who is recuperating from surgery on her vocal chords.

Medically enforced silence forces Swinton to convey tortuous emotions through movement rather than words, allowing her co-stars to inflict damage with their well-placed verbal grenades.

Marianne has retreated to a villa on Pantelleria with her boyfriend, documentary filmmaker Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts), who has tamed her wild, drug-crazed excesses while shaking himself free of alcoholism.

During a lazy afternoon on a secluded beach, Marianne receives a telephone call from her old flame, boorish record producer Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes), who has arrived unexpectedly on the island.

It's clear that Harry has arrived with an ulterior motive - to drive a wedge between the couple - and he has brought along his alluring teenage daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson), to distract Paul. Worming his way into the guest room at Marianne's secluded villa, Harry charms housekeeper Clara (Elena Bucci) and wallows in nostalgia to remind the hostess of happy times with him.

Marianne remains by Paul's side until the two men finally lock horns. Sharing its title with a 1967 David Hockney painting, A Bigger Splash is energized by Fiennes' unflinching portrayal of an emotional wrecking ball.

Four stars

Belfast Telegraph

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