By Natalie Campbell
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
Release Date: 12th February 2016 (UK)
I have a disclosure to make. I don’t really know the best way to say it, so I’m just going to come right out and tell the truth from the outset, lest we get off on the wrong foot and you end up never liking me.
I’m not into art house movies. Phew! there, I said it. It wasn’t too bad. I can’t say that I actively have some evil thing against them, but to be perfectly patent I find it all a bit poncey when things are ‘cool’, just for the damn well sake of it. As far as I’m concerned, films starring Tilda Swinton and wardrobes “created” by designers, just doesn’t wash with me, the use of nepotistic connection for the pursuit of fame (offspring of superstars shooting top notch ad campaigns before they even finish sixth form – anyone?); and daughters of hollywood royalty abound. It all falls into the same category, not cool actually.
In the same breath, I admit, I wanted to hate this film…this is what I actually thought.
We start with a beautifully composed shot of some concert rigging, a puff of smoke and then a totally crummy green screen put together of a (I have to say it) rather unbelievable Tilda, about to throw it down in front of 80’000 screaming fans at Wembley. What a juxtaposition… not even five minutes in and I’d been blown away and then dashed to earth with all the uncouth distaste of a monkey discarding a banana skin… a serious actress, doing green screen? No! Tilda Swinton….! Then just as I was about to get up and walk out to buy more popcorn ready for the journey home, something beautiful happened.
All of a sudden we were transported to a beautiful, desolate, sexy view of an in-love couple doing what in-love couples do when they are on holiday alone. Green screen was immediately forgiven, when I was presented with a stunning vision of a beautiful hot Greek looking (it was Italian) vista.
Then the phone rang and an airport drop was arranged. A naked Tilda reappeared in the most gorgeous sunshine piece of clothing I have ever seen and subsequently Raf Simmons was forgiven too and I made a note to self that I must invest in a backless wonky shirt dress split to the thigh on one side and some silver mirrored glasses to wear all summer. Apart from my incredulity that some old friend would step into and intrude upon my respite holiday with only five minutes notice and bring his fresh found loin fruit with him without allowing me so much as a minute to gather my thoughts, and we were off, plunged headfirst into a whirling, sunny, funny, sexy, dark and at times uncomfortable ride abound with sexual charge, incestuous tension and hot fresh ricotta of all things.
The room started to spin as a conversation about the stock level of a person’s fridge sent my mind into freefall over a set of intuitive glances, wry smirking and eyeballing for the next hour as the story started to firmly wind itself up… or unravel depending on whom you ask.
I suppose thats what happens when you put two screen legends (Fiennes and Swinton) together in a movie and shake it up with a touch of hot young NOW thing (Johnson) and just plain hot thing, the brooding, simply fashioned, presumptive, sexy character Paul worked into a beautiful vision of self torture by Shoenhaarts.
Revelation number 3, Belgians are sexy… Jean Claude Van Damme notwithstanding. Who knew?
A series of beautiful cuts and perceptive musical choices, peppered with the supposition of male bravado via swimming pool splashing, and clever entrance of a backstory that made me genuinely feel as if I had imagined it, including the introduction of a hungry, 22 year old daughter of a former flame.
Fiennes was beautiful in it. I concur, I like him. As he is getting older too, he is grows further still as an actor, flipping around skittishly on screen with the awkwardness of a washed up producer but still managing to infer an air of cool self confidence that only the offspring of Artic explorers could bring.
His character was seedy, amazing and seriously fucking annoying as the tension in the movie built and arguments and things unsaid were abound, jostling for space with it’s conflicts uncomfortably matted into music that crossed my senses into a mixer and unwound me all over again.
Particularly beautiful was the bouncy tit – moon in the daytime – fandango scene that swallowed me whole and made me lust for a holiday. And sex.
At parts of the film I did wonder if we even needed Johnson and the involvement of her chocolate button nipples in the movie; her inclusion at times felt unnecessary and if I’m frank, a touch gratuitous, but I wonder if thats just because her character made me feel so incredibly uncomfortable that I just didn’t want her there, in which case, her performance was truly a star turn. I hated her. Which conversely makes me now love her. The craft must be genetic.
The disrupted idyll is further broken down by our tortured souls, but Johnsons’ frightened Lolita risks (in part) being an obvious typecast.
Some stolen shoes, cloudy sunsets and winding Italian roads soothe us; into sun warmed pink flagstone floors and tiled mosaics as the film uses to great effect the light and dark of inside/ outside holiday light, that I was surprised could be replicated so beautifully filmicly.
Inky black night time swimming, and more splashy fun – though this time less funny – bring the discomfort and adoration to a stilting, sharp, painful, shattering close and haunting, grinding white noise fractures the episode for the last time, before a short moment of brief respite as Johnson finally breaks and an Italian with a gold pen gives us a final respite. I loved it.
I went because I thought the poster was stunning, it doesn’t do the look of this movie justice. I feel simultaneously starved and overfed and unhappy and undersexed and elated. This MUST be seen on a big screen. Call Rebel… tell her you aren’t coming home tonight and do something productive with your Valentines weekend. For gods sake.
Line to remember: I’m not here for the fucking capers.