This is an intelligent film made for adults with a superb cast of brilliant actors. What more can you ask for? Well, you can ask for a well-written script with humour and seriousness combined, which you have got here and a story that has some mystery and unfolds in a fascinating way.
On the small island of Pantelleria – between Sicily and Tunisia – we find rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) and her partner Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts). They are enjoying a restful period of love-making and swimming in their lovely pool while Marianne recovers from a throat operation. Banned from speaking she whispers to Paul.
Suddenly Marianne’s ex-lover Harry (Ralph Fiennes), a very extrovert record producer, bursts in on them.
Harry soon takes charge and wants to get back with Marianne. Harry’s young girlfriend Penelope (Dakota Johnson) makes a play for Paul. The film deals with the relationship between the four and leads to a highly charged conclusion.
You can also ask for lovely scenery and this you get with the cinematographer, Yorick Le Saux, making the most of the unusual landscape and the light and shade on the land and also on the pool. A lovely sight, too, are the clothes devised by Giulia Piersanti and worn by Swinton.
The most fascinating aspect of the whole film, however, is the characters and Luca Guadagnino directs his wonderful cast with just the right approach to both the people and the story.
Swinton is majestic as the rock star who has found real love with new partner Paul. Paul is played with truthfulness by Schoenaerts, who, while feeling grateful to Harry for having introduced him to Marianne, is determined to hang on to her. Johnson is a revelation – quietly watchful she oozes youthful sexuality and is attractive to all.
Fiennes shows a new side: he is loud and brash and full of confidence in his own abilities. Whether he is jumping unashamedly naked into the swimming-pool or leading his little group on another mini-adventure, he knows how to manipulate people and the situation. He boasts of working with the Rolling Stones and there is quite a bit of their music in the film. His dancing is so outrageously amusing that it is worthy of a prize in its own right.