It is not a coincidence that A Bigger Splash takes place on a volcanic island: the film is comprised of dormant passions, waiting to erupt.
David Kajganich's adaptation of the sensual 1969 thriller La Piscine follows rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) and her recovering alcoholic boyfriend Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) as their blissful holiday is soured by the unwelcome, sexually provocative intrusion of her ex Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his new-found daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson).
As its foursome flirt and fight, the film throbs with intense, volatile emotion: it is also not a coincidence that in person its director Luca Guadagnino is similarly animated.
One of the central ideas of A Bigger Splash is the conflict between two ways of living: a traditional hedonistic rock and roll lifestyle, which is embodied by Harry, and a contemporary sort of clean living which Paul and Marianne are attempting to pursue. Why were you interested in exploring that divide? You put me in a place in which I feel uncomfortable because you're asking me to give my own explanation of the film, which I am not very eager to do generally. I think the audience should make a judgement by themselves. I would say that the idea of nostalgia and wanting to get back what you've lost is something that I always think about, and in these characters you have that clash, a kind of battle between wills. It's a very universal, powerful dynamic.
When you have characters who have opposing philosophies, as a director do you take a side or is it important to be sensitive to both points of view? A director should never judge their characters. It's a disgrace if you do that. You should be as open as possible, as broad as possible and you should be able to invest in every act the characters make without judging them ever. If you judge your characters you're putting yourself on top of them and it's a disaster.
The characters are all driven by desire for each other--We all are. Aren't you?
Yes, certainly. I thought it was notable however that there's this struggle where each character wants someone else sexually, and is motivated by this. But this is exactly what we are bound to, so I wanted to make a movie about something that people can absolutely recognise in their own lives, even if they're not rock stars.
Due to an operation on her throat, Marianne is almost entirely silent and has to express herself in other ways. Was that a challenge to depict? Not when you have a great performer like Tilda Swinton. In general, no, because I think that people behave and communicate not just with words, but with the position they take in physical space. You are communicating much more through the position of your feet right now than by anything you're saying, in my opinion. A director is someone who has to be very attentive of behaviour and try to capture everything that comes as communication, whether in words or physically.
The original film La Piscine was set on the French Riviera which is warm but cool, while A Bigger Splash takes place on the island of Pantelleria, where there's the intense Sirocco wind. Was shifting the location a key decision for you? It started everything. When I said I'm going to do this movie based on La Piscine, I had to move the action to an island. I needed the movie to be set adrift and for the environment to challenge the characters. I didn't need a luxurious backdrop. That doesn't interest me, I hate it.
What would you say is the biggest difference between the original version and yours? I haven't seen that movie. I saw it only when I was 16, so I don't know what to say.
Do you think it's a better approach to adapt a film from a distant memory rather than looking at it closely? I was just working from the concept that there were two couples: one father and daughter and one new couple. That was my memory of what was in the movie. The writer may have seen it again but I didn't. I remember there was a moment in La Piscine in which Alain Delon slashes Romy Schneider with a branch, but we don't have any slashing in this movie.
You also altered the title to A Bigger Splash, which is the name of a David Hockney painting that depicts a splash of water as someone dives into a swimming pool. Why did you change the name from a location to the consequence of an action? The pool isn't the important point, the point is the clash. I'd much rather focus on the action rather than the concept of the pool itself. I also wanted, in my megalomania, to buy that painting when I was young. Somehow I feel I now possess it in a way because it's the title of my movie.
With Valentine's day fast approaching, we've selected ten swoon-worthy treats. Featuring: cheese once harnessed by French maidens to lure handsome soldiers, lobster biscuits, handcrafted hearts and playful playing cards. There's something for everyone to love.
One. Win affection with Coeur-shaped cheese.
Hailing from Neufchatel in Northern Normandy, the Coeur de Neufchatel is the richer, more sentimental cousin of the humble Camenbert. According to local legend, this heart-shaped cheese was given to English conquerers by maidens residing in the town throughout the Hundred Years War. Tie a bow, pack a knife, and picnique beneath the stars.
Whether you're crafting breakfast in bed for a long-term love or locking eyes with an office crush, few things are greater appreciated than a cup of tea brewed just how they like it. Falcon's enamel pot is the perfect sharing size, and comes in a striking Pillarbox Red. Made from porcelain fused onto heavy-gauge steel -- it might chip, but it won’t break, no matter how hard you drop it. If only relationships were that durable.
Four. Come out of your shellContrary to urban legend, lobsters don't mate for life.Though their monogamy lasts for mere weeks at a time, female lobsters have to shed their shell before they mate, rendering themselves somewhat vulnerable. If you've been hiding your feelings for a while, why not make like a lobster and come clean this year?
Kate Rowland hand-draws adorable motifs before carving them into plywood. Her range features everything from feminist brooches to tiny paint palettes via space rockets and Twin Peaks tributes. Our personal favourite is this delicate pair of heartwarming hands.
Jessie Cave's Lovesick is the perfect anti-Valentine's Valentines gift for the maddeningly adorable cynic in your life. Each illustration in the book explores the writer's most neurotic love sick thoughts. Hilarious, and highly relatable. Especially if you're currently waiting for a text.
Evermore and Darley Avenue collaborate to release this hand-poured soy candle just in time for February 14th. Phthalate-free peony fragrance is delicate and romantic, whilst peppermint essential oil provides a refreshing top note to lift and energise. Guaranteed to have you swooning for Spring and all the possibility it brings.
A towel may not be a conventional cupid's gift, but why give chocolates when Drye's Towel in a Tin collection is so gorgeous and cosy? Few would be able to resist, and you'll score points for originality.
If you're looking to make a bold statement of commitment this year, why not send a photo of you and your beau to Viktorija of Andsmile Studio? She'll recreate your love in gorgeous strokes of watercolour and pencil, so you can hang it on the wall forever.
An old-fashioned card game is a great ice breaker, and Oh Comely's exclusive pack designed by Brooklyn maker Kaye Blegvad are gorgeously playful. Challenge your crush to a game of poker, and let fireworks fly.
The wait is nearly over as we visit the printer for the first time in 2016. Here’s a peek of what’s on its way in Oh Comely issue 29 where we talk about change.Photo: Naomi Shimada photographed by Francesca Allen
Cristina BanBan’s bold and bright illustrations open our chapters celebrating four women who changed the world. Our cover girl Naomi’s bright smile shines through the pages and we reread the books that changed us.
Illustration: Cristina BanBan
Thank goodness we’re too late to join the cries of New Year: New You! Green smoothies and exercise did not feature in our team challenge to shake-up our habits, instead we embraced rebellion and tried to sit up straight - you’d think this would be a doddle. It wasn’t.
We nattered to four generations to see into the future and five writers shared the turning-points of their past. The whole issue was put together with love and tears as we waved off our editor Liz Bennett and embraced what 2016 has in store for us. Plus interviews with Maxine Peake, jennylee and Daughter.
Photo: Liz Seabrook
Preorder Issue 29: Change here. Available on the newstands mid-February.
The office has been unoccupied for two weeks, the tinsel has been taken down, fairy lights retired for another year and I have an urge to clean. The type of cleaning that involves moving furniture and several trips to the recycling. I succumb to that urge. Oh what treasures were found lurking behind the sofa.
It started with stumbling upon a box of lost glue sticks and then the office just kept giving and giving; under every desk was an unlabeled box of joy! Notebooks designed by Owen Gent, Pin Badges by Kaye Blegvad, pots of glitter, knitting patterns, wrapping paper... a box of Issue 1 - JACKPOT!
With all these unearthed goodies the only logical thing to do was have a little sale! We’re letting you fill your bookshelves with 50% off issues and as for all the wonderful pieces from 2015, we thought we’d make you some mystery parcels! Because who doesn’t love a surprise?
There are two price options so you can choose to treat yourself a little or a lot. Every Mystery Parcel will contain wonderful pieces unique to Oh Comely from our collaborations of 2015 and will be at least a 25% saving. Although you can’t choose your items, we will try our very best not to duplicate items if you buy more than one!
So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Oh Comely Shop to fill your life with loveliness. Sale runs from 15th January until 1st February but be quick limited numbers are available.
2. Revitalise your space with geometric shapes and plants...
Changes of scenery are good for the soul, and small tweaks in how you present your belongings can make the world of difference. This Wall Display can be used as a simple decoration or as a display case for potted plants and cacti, notebooks or jewellery.
Scents are an important element to consider when building a space to match a mood. The sweet citrus aroma of lemongrass is known for its cleansing and rejuvenating qualities, making it perfect for rainy days at the home office.
Told through the eyes of Alexander (Jeremy Chabriel), an eleven year old on the cusp of discovering his own moral compass, Ariel Kleiman's debut film Partisan is a cautionary tale about the effects dogma can have on vulnerable minds.
Alexander's father Gregori (Vincent Cassel) is a charismatic ringleader of a closed community made up of eight seemingly abandoned mothers and their offspring. Children are shielded from the dangers of the outside world and warned that curiosity can create vicious fires. Denied permission to wander, they barely leave Gregori's side, except when he sends them out on assassination missions.
Although extreme, at its heart Partisan is a story about the inevitable moment when every child realises the adults around them are fundamentally flawed. It's heartbreaking and quietly fantastic.
We sat down with Ariel to talk about innocence lost, growing pains, and casting Vincent Cassel as the lead in his first feature.
What inspired you to create Partisan?
The original spark came from an article in the New York Times about child assassins in Colombia. Everything I’ve made has been inspired by an image, and in this case it was literally the image of a child gunning down a man. Not only was it disturbing, it was so surreal and absurd. I immediately knew I wanted to turn that gut reaction into a film, but I didn’t feel I was the right person to make that specific story about Colombia. What I was more interested in was the human drama behind the crime: the tragedy of adults passing their insecurities and fears onto children.
The film has an ambiguity that adds an almost magical element. You don’t state where it’s set, or in which time period. Why leave those details out?
I didn’t see this movie as being a realist work. I wanted it to feel more like a myth, or a fable. A lot of fables use extreme characters and stories to tell tales about very ordinary things. At most points, for example, Gregori is incredibly paternally motivated. That’s what Vincent connected with most in the script: many of Gregori's anxieties and motivations are scarily relatable.
Another big inspiration was the decision to tell the story from Alexander’s perspective. He’s growing up with blinkers on. Like any child experiences, as you grow up the blinkers slowly widen, and it can be a mind-altering experience, realising that the adults in your life are just people too.
It was great to see Jeremy Chabriel, this tiny person, holding his own against an actor like Cassel. How did you find him?
That was really daunting. When I wrote the script, I was pretty naive. Then it got to a point where I thought, “Shit, how are we going to find this boy?!” He’s the hero of the film, he's in pretty much every scene, and he has to go up against Vincent. We knew we needed someone remarkable and ended up finding Jeremy through a French school in Sydney. He’s a very sensitive young man. He’d never acted before and his audition tape was shot on a really average camera, but his eyes just kind of glowed and he held himself with this real maturity.
The other child actors weren’t all stretched in quite the same way, but as director you still had to communicate the story to them. Given the difficult nature of the film, how did you accomplish that?
Jeremy read the whole screenplay and knew what was happening, but we mainly kept the other children away from the themes. They were all so different, each with their own big imagination and personality. One girl would hug my leg every morning and wouldn’t let go, and there was another who was always asking when he was going to get more lines. Overall the girls were very easy to work with, very professional. The boys, on the other hand, were mainly troublemakers, pouncing around the place.
What was your thinking behind commissioning musicians like Jarvis Cocker and Metronomy to record original faux 1980s pop songs?
When we wrote the script and started to shoot the film it just didn't feel right to use pop songs that existed in our world, because people have existing memories associated with them. The setting is constructed as this nowhere land, so we went about crafting pop songs that would have been hits in our no man’s land, pop classics that no one has ever heard of. I basically made a list of artists I’d love to see tackle that brief, and amazingly, some of them said yes.
One of those numbers, “The Hardest Thing To Do”, is sung by Alexander at karaoke. The music video made for it is so much fun to watch – so ridiculous and reflective of 80s styling. Where did the idea come from?
I got a good friend who I knew could bring the cheese to make those videos. We talked a lot about a need to make them feel realistic.
The karaoke scene in the film was actually inspired by my travels in Asia. We were travelling through Vietnam and were lucky enough to be invited over for dinner by a Vietnamese family. After dinner, they had this ritual where they all huddle around the TV to sing karaoke. The kids sang with such sincerity and deep emotion. These songs were about love and heartbreak and whatever adult pop songs are about, but somehow it was incredibly powerful.
What was Vincent like on set? Partisan is your first feature film, so working with such an established actor must have felt exciting?
He was a nightmare. Really difficult and arrogant.
No, he’s a special, special guy. The second he came on set, you felt the energy of the whole crew shift. Everyone wanted to be at the top of their game, and he made everyone feel more confident. I’ve seen him portray menace and threat and foreboding, and he does do all of that effortlessly, but some of my favourite moments of him on-screen are tender and vulnerable. Those sad, insecure moments. The way he brought those aspects of Gregori’s character to life was really something.
Partisan is released in U.K. cinemas on 8th January.
Take a peek inside our delightful directory, where we've curated products crafted by our favourite independent brands to watch in 2016. We've thrown in some exclusive reader discount codes, too. Happy January!
From decorative diamonds, baubles and lampshades, Origami-est breathes new life into the ancient Japanese tradition. Feast your eyes on gorgeous pre-designed palattes in their collection, or get your craft on at one of their workshop.
Super Duper Things is an independent one-stop stationery shop worth swooning over. With a beautiful collection spanning books, prints and kits adorned with original graphics, you're sure to find something to love.