Short Review Round-Up (A Bigger Splash and The Lobster)

a bigger splash

abiggersplashposterA Bigger Splash is a movie about the relationship between pleasure and cruelty. But while it does, particularly in its last third, make an effort to point a finger at the sort of privileged ambivalence that enables many of our world’s tragedies, I didn’t come out of the theater shaken, but delighted. How could I not, when director Luca Guadagnino – that luscious Italian who gifted us with I Am Love– has assembled the most magnificent cast of actors.

Leading the charge is Guadagnino’s frequent collaborator Tilda Swinton, who plays a world-famous rock diva (this would be the closest Swinton gets to playing David Bowie except for that video in which she kinda does). The rockstar is on vacation in a paradisiac Italian island with her hot boyfriend, a documentarian played by Belgian hunk Matthias Schoenaerts. Their vacation is interrupted, however, by the arrival of a histrionic old collaborator, and ex-lover, played by the magnificent Ralph Fiennes, and his flirty 22 year-old daughter, played with wonderful bad girl attitude by Dakota Johnson.

As you can see, pleasures abound in this movie. I am a moderate fan of Schoenaerts’s work, but the other three actors I absolutely love. I could see them interacting for hours, particularly when they’re lounging by a beautiful beach, wearing Dior, being touched by the most delicate golden sunlight. The movie makes its shift from naturalistic comedy to tragic melodrama rather seamlessly, partly because Guadagnino’s visuals are so playful from the start. I remain uncertain whether the director was attempting social commentary with the movie’s last act, but it remains a carefully observed and engaging experience throughout. The movie reaches its peak when Fiennes lets loose and dances to The Rolling Stones’s “Emotional Rescue”, but the rest remains a delight.

Grade: 8 out of 10

lobsterposterYou go around life thinking there are some movies that you like, some movies you don’t like, and some movies that you love. Then along comes a movie that so perfectly captures not only your cinematic aesthetic, but your sense of humor, and the sort of questions that plague your daily life and color your philosophical outlook on the world. Then, you can’t really think of it in relationship to other movies that you’ve seen, because this movie has been tailor-made for you, how can you not love it? Even if there is a moment that you aren’t in love with, how could you possibly complain about it when the movie around it is pretty a present from the universe.

That is how I feel about Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, and I mention my feelings about it because I would find it impossible to review it, for I have seen it twice, and already love it so profoundly. What I can do is recommend everybody see it, and give a little context. The movie’s a dark romantic comedy, set in a dystopian world inhabited exclusively by couples. If someone finds themselves to be single, they are sent to a purgatorial retreat, and they are given 45 days to find a mate. Should they fail to find a partner, they will be turned into an animal of their choosing. And if you try to escape, you’ll be hunted down and killed.

Don’t be fooled. As cool as that premise sounds, The Lobster is much more than “Tinder meets The Most Dangerous Game”. Particularly in its second half, the movie opens up to a wider and more complex world than anticipated, and transcends into true greatness. Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, and Olivia Colman lead a flawless ensemble. ‘The Lobster’ is my favorite movie of the year so far, and I would be shocked if it doesn’t remain in that spot by the end of the year.

Grade: 10 out of 10

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