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A Bigger Splash (Blu-ray Review)

a bigger splash coverPutting a couple Oscar nominees and two more talented performers in a film structured like a 4-person play is one thing. Setting that film on a remote Italian island adds an extra layer. A Bigger Splash made a small splash at the box office this past spring, but won over many critics. Now this provocative thriller is available on Blu-ray for more to discover what exactly is going on underneath the Mediterranean sun.

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Film:

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Tilda Swinton stars as Marianne Lane, a rock star who is currently living in seclusion with her boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) on the remote Italian island of Pantelleria. Their vacation is disrupted by Harry (Ralph Fiennes), one of Marianne’s old flames, who constantly speaks his mind and unleashes his latest surprise – a 22-year-old daughter named Penelope (Dakota Johnson). From there, a subtle level of danger emerges involving passion and jealousy.

If there is some vagueness to that plot description it is because the film doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of narrative twists that are all that innovative. A Bigger Splash is more of a character study than anything, but it just so happens to involve people who are naturally drawn to each other. It should also be noted that the film is loosely inspired by the 1969 Italian-French film La Piscine, but clearly has other new wave filmmaking influence behind it as well.

The film comes from director Luca Guadagnino, who has directed Swinton in previous features and once again allows the actress to deliver a strong performance. This time she is limited by her character having to rest her voice due to the status as a rock star. Swinton being as good as she is still means we get a solid, nuanced performance out of her. However, this leaves plenty of room for Fiennes to truly shine as the boisterous Harry. This may be the loosest Fiennes has been in some time, not counting his wonderful work in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Ralph Fiennes as "Harry" and Tilda Swinton as "Marianne" in A BI

Then you have Schoenaerts and Johnson. Both do a fine job of holding their own with this cast. Each character has their respective role to play and no one comes up short. That’s always good, because a weak link could easily derail what is trying to be accomplished. This is most evident in the first half, when the film is having a blast throwing these different personalities in together and letting us enjoy the mostly humorous results.

The tension ratchets up in the second half, as relationships are explored and tested. It’s not bad, but the film approaches some plot turns that just don’t feel out of the ordinary for the type of story being told. As a result, A Bigger Splash takes out the general fun being had in exchange for a more familiar final third, which is worthwhile, but not as engaging.

A Bigger Splash has its fun and its share of drama. The film is well-acted and certainly looks fantastic thanks to the location and cinematography. There are plenty of other things to admire as well, but this is mainly a film to appreciate for its 4-player fun that the actors get to play around with. That is what gets delivered on and the film does its job to provide it.


Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: Aside from some minor moments where that Mediterranean sun seems just a bit too intense, A Bigger Splash looks pretty fantastic. The detail to be found in these locations generally plays quite well, whether we are inside the house, around the pool or other outdoor locations, or under the moonlight.

Depth: Movements are smooth and always play well with the background and foreground elements.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky, though some detailing here feels a bit light at times.

Color Reproduction: Given the setting, the color spectrum is all over the place and we get all the richness you would hope. The water, environments, buildings and costumes all pop here.

Flesh Tones: The facial textures are wonderful, especially given all the intense, sun-drenched close-ups we receive.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

Dynamics: The lossless 5.1 audio track is perfectly complimentary to the film. The rock star angle associated with the characters leads to some great moments involving soundtrack cues and the general sound of this movie set in a certain paradise is great.

Low Frequency Extension: There is enough activity to give the LFE channel enough to work with.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is a great use of all the channels to properly immerse you in the world created by this film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear throughout.

 

Extras:

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A Bigger Splash has little to offer here, which is a shame. It would have been great to hear more about where this film came from and what the actors had to say beyond the mini featurettes presented.

Features Include:

  • Promotional Featurettes – A grouping of very brief looks at the film.
    • The Silent One (HD, 0:35)
    • The Extroverted One (HD, 0:34)
    • The Young One (HD, 0:35)
    • The Mysterious One (HD, 0:34)
    • Story and Cast (HD, 2:10)
    • Beneath the Surface (HD, 2:16)
    • The Inspiration (HD, 1:09)
    • Another World (HD, 1:51)
  • Gallery (HD)
  • Trailer (HD, 1:57)
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film

Summary:

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A Bigger Splash has enough to make for a worthwhile film. It has a solid cast and a great location to make for a very watchable two hours. The Blu-ray presentation is quite good, as the location allows for strong video and the audio is solid as well. Features are sadly lacking, but at least you can enjoy the main feature. Dive into A Bigger Splash to check it out yourself.

 

Order Your Copy Here:

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I never stand in front of the elevator doors when they open. All because of the movie The Departed.

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