Monday 13 March 2023

A Bigger Splash - 2015 film review

I came to watch A Bigger Splash via a circuitous route. I decided to track down a song which I loved as a teenager. This was 'Ask Yourself Why' - there's a lovely performance by Sally Stevens on YouTube - and although Sally was one of Burt Bacharach's concert singers (and co-wrote one or two songs with him) in this case the composer was the great Frenchman Michel Legrand. He wrote it at roughly the same time as 'Windmills of Your Mind', but this song was much less successful, despite the gorgeous melody and crafty lyrics by the Bergmans.

I discovered that the song was written for the soundtrack of a 1969 film La Piscine, starring Alain Delon and Jane Birkin, of whom I'm a real fan. It's a well-regarded film and I want to watch it, but in the meantime I learned that A Bigger Splash is a loose remake and even if the music isn't quite as good as Legrand's, it's well worth watching in its own right. 

Tilda Swinton plays Marianne, a rock singer who is recovering from a throat operation on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria in the company of her lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). It all seems quite lazy and idyllic until their old friend Harry (Ralph Fiennes) invites himself along, together with his daughter, the coquettish Pen (Dakota Johnson). Harry is Marianne's former lover and soon sexual tensions are simmering.

This is a story of psychological suspense with a crime at its heart, but it's essentially a drama of character rather than a mystery. It's well-made, but outstays its welcome - the later scenes are anti-climactic. However, the acting is enjoyable, with Fiennes playing a very different character from the stiff upper lip types we might associate him with. I look forward to taking a look at La Piscine and comparing the two films. 


Liz Gilbey said...

Well, that solved a tiny dilemma; I had always thought that song was called "Keep Off The Grass" so no wonder I could never find it! Thanks, Martin, a lovely little song, and very reminiscent in singing style of Jackie de Shannon. Very interesting comments below the video too, especially from the singer, Sally Stevens. "Windmills Of Your Mind" fitted the mood of The Thomas Crown Affair so very well(there is also a magnetic but not beautifully sung version by Noel Harrison, son of Rex on a jazz style album he made in California while starring in The Girl from UNCLE on tv) but of LeGrand's songs I love "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?"
There were some wonderful and evocative movie soundtracks in the Sixties. And this is a wonderful reminder. Interesting casting for all vaariations of the film, I think!

Martin Edwards said...

Absolutely, Liz! Very much agree with you about the Jackie de Shannon comparison and also about 'What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?' One of the finest love songs.