How do you top a movie as sexy as 1969's La Piscine, which stars Alain Delon and Romy Schneider and Maurice Ronet and Jane Birkin at prime-pulchritude as vacationing layabouts, each one out-slinking the other in skin-tight swimsuits while pouting ooh la la with exquisite existential ennui? If you're Italian master Luca Guadagnino, hot off your sensually stylish art-house hit I Am Love, then you don't dillydally, you got right for it, and you turn the world into your dick.
Shooting once again with cinematographer Yorick Le Saux - who besides I Am Love has spent the past few years gracing the world with such eye-orgasms as Clouds of Sils Maria and Only Lovers Left Alive and Carlos and Julia and, funnily enough, Ozon's 2003 erotic sunbathing thriller Swimming Pool - Guadagnino shoots the entirety of A Bigger Splash from the crotch, literally. I began to think of what I was watching as "Dick Cam" -- our eyes are nearly always situated at waist-level; as we watch the characters mill about the tops of their heads are often cut off even, since we're staring up at them from below.
Below, below, down where everything emanates from. You might think I'm fixating on private parts because, well I am me, and also that the actors Guadagnino is shooting are - glory and hallelujah - not shy people, nope not shy people at all, not one of them. But it's more than my own typically crippling lustful gaze at work here - passions, like members, are inflamed upon every corner of the screen. Guadagnino's camera is on fire, whirling around panoramically 360 degrees to take in every bit of this breathtaking space, and rocketing down lengths of hose like the demons of the Evil Dead are approaching. This movie is one gorgeous ejaculation after another.
Frankly, I wasn't prepared for it. I adored I Am Love but it's often purposefully a stately film, echoing Visconti-isms, with gorgeous people arranged as art-pieces in gallerias and boutiques and golden brown sitting rooms. There is one scene in I Am Love that seems to signal what's to come here, when Tilda and her new lover flail and fornicate in the lush outdoors - Guadagnino zooms in so close we can smell them and see each drop of sweat forming in each pore.
A Bigger Splash is in a constant state of fleshiness - bodies, beautiful bodies, choreographed like an up close and personal dance through and around space. I can't gush enough about the way the frame slides and moves over these forms, slowing and speeding up like sexual rhythms. The way he shoots the titular Splash that we know is coming, a horrific chaotic closeness making us sick with immediate and palpable anxiety - within the space of seconds I actually felt ill, nauseous, and then we're flying off into the stars...
Guadagnino is a film-maker that does seem to be looking ahead with each film though - if I Am Love seemed to echo forward into this, there were several hints that he's had Suspiria (his upcoming remake of Dario Argento's masterful giallo which will again star Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson) on his brain here - to here Tilda, spotting a snake, make that glorious "Sssssssss" sound, or the slicing-knife sound-effect of an airport gate, it is to look upon the future, what's to come, with extraordinary enthusiasm.