Oldies but goldies: Plein Soleil (1960)

Director: René Clément; Main Cast: Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt;

plein-soleil

Handsome but penniless Tom Ripley (Delon) has been tasked by wealthy Mr. Greenleaf to bring back home to San Francisco his wayward son Philippe (Ronet), who is gallivanting around Italy.  Philippe is living large with his girlfriend Marge (Laforet) in Naples and the audience finds Tom tagging along and being Philippe’s buddy and occasional virtual punching bag. Philippe is good looking, viveur and self-confident, his money gives him the freedom that Tom doesn’t have. It’s obvious since the beginning that Tom is both attracted to and envious of Philippe, we can see him clearly thinking: ” I can be like him, I just need money!”. On the other hand, Philippe is intrigued by Tom’s many talents but repulsed by his lowly social standing and the creepy vibes he gives off. Tom’s meekness and subservient attitude seems to excite Philippe’s mean streak to the point that even Marge takes Tom’s defense. The tension gradually builds up while the strain on the relationship between these three characters grows, all in great contrast with the beautiful scenery of Southern Italy. This adds a somewhat sinister twist to reassuring surroundings and the scenes on the sailing boat become almost claustrophobic. As Tom’s hope of obtaining the reward Philippe’s father has promised fades, his fantasies of riches and easy life coalesce into a much darker plan to gain what he wants. The second half of the film revolves around Tom’s schemes and maneuvers to keep his dream alive, not letting anything gets in his way. Clement adapts skillfully this story of envy, deceit and delusion of grandeur based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. His expert use of the blazing white and blue of Italian summer and the lovely settings in Naples and Rome brings an additional layer to the unfolding drama. The cast delivers solid performances, Alain Delon is a perfect embodiment of Tom with the right mix of charm and slyness. The only point that raised involuntary laughters was Marie Laforet’s crying scene, similar to every display of sorrow by any Disney princess. This is a very minor flaw that doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the film. In comparison to the more recent adaptation, this is a far superior movie with a better and more convincing casting.  Dazzling —7.5/10

This is my entry to the The Beach Party Blogathon hosted by Silver Screening and Speakeasy. Ruth and Kristina will keep the party going all week, go and check their blogs!

beach-party-jaws

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6 Comments

Filed under Oldies but goldies, Seen at home

6 responses to “Oldies but goldies: Plein Soleil (1960)

  1. A little ashamed to admit I STILL haven’t seen this one, despite liking the story and Delon, glad to hear it’s so good! Thanks for taking part in the blogathon!

  2. I really can’t wait to watch this movie again.I really love the color used in this movie.Great performance by Delon!!Great Choice,Marta:)

    If I didn’t love “Jeux interdits” that much,these would’ve been my favorite Clement film.Have you seen that one?

  3. I’ve seen the later version, which I quite liked, but have never seen this one. It definitely sounds like one to add to my ever-growing Must Watch list. Thanks for bringing Plein Soleil to the Beach Party blogathon!

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