Magazine article Screen International

Luca Guadagnino Talks 'A Bigger Splash'

Magazine article Screen International

Luca Guadagnino Talks 'A Bigger Splash'

Article excerpt

When Studi°Canal first approached director Luca Guadagnino about refashioning Jacques Deray's 1969 classic La Piscine the Italian was not without misgivings.

"I only had the faded memories of a screening that I saw when I was young, on TV on a summer night," recalls the 43-year old, who plays in competition sixteen years after debuting on the Lido with crime-thriller The Protagonists.

"My instinct was to understand why they wanted me to revise that kind of loungey, soft, erotic film that had been made in order to exploit the star power of the 'couple of the time', Delon and Schneider."

Romy Schneider and Alain Delon – a 60's 'couple mythique' of near-Burton and Taylor proportion - had separated some years before, but their casting opposite each other in the steamy story of a couple whose holiday is unsettled by the arrival of a friend and his beautiful daughter, caused quite a stir, even before they were joined in the cast by the iconic Jane Birkin and celebrated French actor Maurice Renet.

Guadagnino saw inevitable dangers in taking on a known quantity: "I think it was Jean Renoir who said 'You need to leave the door open to reality when you make a film, otherwise you risk making a product.'"

Indeed, the film had already proved a major influence on Francois Ozon's 2003 drama The Swimming Pool.

So the aim was to "move away from La Piscine with grace and with freedom," says the director who prefers to term A Bigger Splash 'apres La Piscine' rather than a remake.

But Guadagnino also made connections between the source material and themes that have permeated his own films, including his most recent feature drama, the Oscar and BAFTA-nominated I Am Love (2009).

"Basically, I realised that in it lied the ground to explore topics that are very close and very dear to me, such as the power of desire as a subconscious force that navigates people in life, creating conflict, regrets, obsession and distraction, just as much as creativity."

Erotic tension

The film's taut scenario, originally devised by Deray, Jean-Claude Carriere and Alain Page but updated by David Kajganich (The Invasion), would in fact afford Guadagnino an enviable canvas on which to navigate his own desires, in particular through an eclectic and in-demand quartet of actors: Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts and the director's long-time collaborator and muse Tilda Swinton.

"We didn't cast the film by thinking 'who could best embody the 1969 cast', he explains.

The director was instead motivated by a deeper urge. "In general the people I want to work with – the players - are people I need to feel an incredible erotic tension toward. And because, for me at least, to direct, to interact with people, and to collaborate with people, has to do with desire and it has to do with the capacity of being driven by the strong force of wanting to be with them."

"When the movie finishes, great friendships are started, and you relax your eroticism towards your actors, but it's important that you feel for them," he continues.

"Imagine Scorsese and De Niro if there wasn't such a tension," he expands. "Or Almodovar and his actresses. I'm not comparing myself to such masters but I'm talking about the secret love that underlies the relationship between actors, actresses and directors. …

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