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Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots

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« Happy 10th Anniversary to Mad Men | Main | YNMS: Professor Marston & The Wonder Women »
Wednesday
Jul192017

Soundtracking: "A Bigger Splash"

This week, Chris Feil's series on music in the movies sits poolside with last year's steamer...

Confession: Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash has been something of a minor addiction for yours truly in the year since its stateside release. And it’s key use of “Emotional Rescue” by The Rolling Stones has put that track into heavy nonstop rotation as well. I mean how can you not fall in immediately love with a film that casts Tilda Swinton as a rock star named Marianne Lane. It is sensory overload, all mouthwatering cuisine and eye contact between actor and camera. But not least of its horny senses is its rock and roll soundscape, subtly infused throughout to appealing effect.

In Splash, the lasting impact of great music is just like to great sex for its lingering spell. Its cues and references are scattered throughout, recalling the visages of Bowie and Patti Smith to make its musical world more realized. Even more fluidly, it crafts character identity and relationship as one with the music in ways as subtle as how its reveals their shiftiness.

The film instantly earned some iconography for Ralph Fiennes glorious and unhinged dance to The Rolling Stones’s “Emotional Rescue”. The Stones are such a defining fit for Fiennes’s Harry, a band both monolithic and contradictory in all their diversions. Harry similarly makes his presence known while being difficult to pin down into one singular characteristic - except oozing sex. But the same could be said about the film.

And oh that dance. Every bit as excessive and deceptively appealing as anything else in the film, Fiennes is a genius little devil. His manicness and wacko sex appeal is way more trackable if you imagine Harry assembling himself in the image of the Stones. He tells us this song is from his teen years - how many times has he danced with abandon to its hooting swagger? How impressionable was the song’s slippery sexuality on his own self-image and ability to use sex as negotiation tool? Oops, no matter, because he already has us in the audience at his every whim.

Harry is an equal opportunity titillater here, sending three generations of women into swaying dance with the music along with us. But when Marianne grooves along, even as she luxuriates on Matthias Schoenaerts’s lap, her senses are with Harry and his aura. Music is their shared history, a language that guides and defines the two of them as much as their relentless sexual chemistry. You can almost imagine the musical underscoring to their interactions at every turn, their reemerging flirtations and frustrations the stuff of rock legends.

Though Marianne herself is captivated by the Stones, covering “Worried About You”, the two’s relationship comes more alive musically just like the rest of us. That’s right: karaoke montage!

Since we don’t really get to see much of Marianne performing or Harry shepherding his artists, this is the closest we get to see of them in their element. Their intoxicated from the feet up and not just from substances - with the music, with the crowd, with eachother. As Marianne watches on as Harry performs with this mystery daughter, a note in Tilda’s expression sees something new in him like discovering something previously unheard in a favorite song. Harry however is submerged in the feeling.

The music eventually comes to a halt as the film’s party dies. But long before St. Vincent’s moodier “Emotional Rescue” cover reprises over the credits and the darker side of this poolside fantasy is revealed, this rock and roll oasis has already cast its spell.

Previous Soundtracking Favorites:
A Mighty Wind
Drive
Big Little Lies

Best Worst Thing...
American Honey
but all installments can be found here!

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Reader Comments (3)

Ralph Fiennes dancing to "Emotional Rescue" is just too awesome for words. It has to be seen and man, I wanna have sex with him.

July 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Terrific movie, iconic scene

July 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterhepwa

For me it's all about Harry Nilssons 'Jump into the Fire' playing during the scene when it's all turned to shit.

July 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEz

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