First Hit: This film lacked clarity of purpose partially because the actors and characters weren't well mixed in this uninteresting story.
The film starts with the illusion that Tilda Swinton (as Marianne Lane) is a middle age rock star still able to bring in stadium full audiences.
Attempting to convince the audience through brief clips of a stadium filled with rock fans, the band on the stage, and Lane, with a black wig, comes out to the microphone was inadequate. We don’t hear her sing nor do we hear her music.
This lacked credibility, and Swinton’s look and presence didn’t carry the energy of a stadium filling rock star. The audience is asked to take this at face value, what makes this worse is that we do not get to hear her speak because she’s just had throat surgery and isn’t supposed to speak so her character's story is limited.
Because she has these two strikes against her, it is like the old saying, "two wrongs to make a right". She’s vacationing with her husband Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) at some unknown rural (possibly Mediterranean) location where the village is small and population sparse.
Unbeknownst to Paul and Marianne, her old boyfriend and former music producer Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes) is coming to visit them. Harry talks all the time and he’s full of hyper energy, takes over every conversation, and makes a big scene everywhere he is.
Although Marianne is more interested in seeing Hawkes, Paul, even though he and Harry are lifelong friends, doesn't. Overall, it appears they’d rather not have him as a guest, but no one stops the madness. The madness begins at one of the first scenes when they pick him up at the airport by surprising them by bringing his underage unknown daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson).
The rest of the film attempts to extrapolate each of their personalities given their restricted behavior. However, I never felt that their relationships with themselves were real or flushed out, nor were their connections with each other valid. One of the few good scenes was Harry’s lip-syncing and dancing to the Rolling Stones' classic song “Emotional Rescue”.
One of the more painful scenes was the horrible karaoke singing and dancing by Harry and Marianne in a local bar.
Swinton was miscast in this role because there is just no way she resembled or acted as a stadium rock and roll star. Adding to this that she wasn’t supposed to speak, which added to the difficulty in making her believable. Fiennes was also miscast as there is no way he could pull off being this obnoxious, unthinking, arrogant, producer. He carries too much integrity and therefore it didn’t work. Schoenaerts was good and the best part of the film. His character was believable as a brooding, somewhat depressive, friend and mate of Harry and Marianne respectively. Johnson was mediocre as the young girl who was manipulative and questioning of her father and his friends. She didn’t make me believe her as a seductress – it was way to obvious. David Kajganich wrote a very mediocre screenplay that didn’t really dive into the characters and their history. Every setup of the character's history seemed too overt and lacking curiosity. A film audience needs to be curious about the characters. Luca Guadagnino directed this and probably made the most of the story as written. The casting was, for the most part, poor.
Overall: I was bored by the story, actors, and the way this film unfolded.