Director: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay: Dave Kajganich
Story: Alain Page
Starring: Tida Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Corrado Guzzanti, Lily McMenamy, Aurore Clément; Elena Bucci.
An English language Italian-French erotic thriller.
After having throat surgery, Marianne Lane (Tida Swinton) goes on a retreat from her rock star career with her lover, Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts).
The film opens to an idyllic life of sun, mud, the blue of the ocean and the relaxation of naked lovers lounging by the pool. Until Harry (Ralph Fiennes) arrives. Bringing his long lost daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson) with him.
I’d never thought of Tida Swinton as sexy until seeing her playing Marianne. Think, We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011), Constantine (2005) and I’ll never forget her in Orlando (1992). But there’s a genuine love and warmth in this silent yet expressive character. And the chemistry between Marianne and Paul is totally believable. As is the subtleties of the narcissism of youth in Penelope and the unbalanced, lost, selfish but, gotta love him for his dancing moves, Harry. The guy dances like a demented chicken.
And I admit I became a bit jealous of the love between Marianne and Paul, so intimately portrayed to the audience.
What a great mix of characters. All so well cast and well played. At one point Harry states, ‘Honesty is the greatest fidelity.’ Where Paul responds, ‘The world isn’t ready for your honesty.’
Set on an island somewhere between Sicily and Tunisia, the elements are used to build the tension: the desert winds, the porcelain faces of pots; ruined boats flaking red and blue and the lost immigrants appearing from behind crumbling buildings set on baron clifftops. And the ever present snakes.
Director, Luca Guadagnino shows the story using the landscape and montages, almost glitches in the flow to set a slight unease in the audience. There’s a tension that brews in this film and I loved the classic soundtrack used to set the flavour of the film giving a clarity to the mystery, almost like cleansing the palate.
There’s a fair bit of nudity here, but the film has such a mature feel, it’s just another part of the character’s personality. How comfortable they are naked in front of others.
The only negative is there was a loss of momentum where the peak of the film was reached too early. But the story continued giving a greater depth of character. That looking back with regret, or the feeling you never have to do that stupid thing again. Or, hell, maybe I will. But now things are different. Life is different. And the consequences of previous choices are now being felt. And either forgotten, held for ransom, cut away, forgiven or gotten away with. Life; people. You just don’t always know what you’re going to get.
I enjoyed watching this film, the subtleties of each character and the beautiful scenery.
Nice to watch one made for the adults.