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4.0 out of 5 stars The young Tom Ripley and murder: A match made in heaven, 22 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Plein Soleil [DVD] [1960] (DVD)
Admit it. At feeding time wouldn't we rather be the snake than the mouse? Even though we might be revolted by the snake's single-minded swallowing, without benefit of a knife and fork, don't we merely shiver a bit and keep watching?

Tom Ripley enjoys a good meal, too. He wants all the good things in life. He doesn't mind causing a little death now and then to get them and to keep them. He takes exception to being looked down upon. Along with Ripley's charm, good nature, easy manners and handsome looks, he has a complete lack of conscience, which combines well with his desire to enjoy what others have.

Patricia Highsmith's intelligent thriller, The Talented Mr. Ripley, first introduced us to Tom. He was poor then but willing to be rich. He was the order-taking, money-holding, envious hanger-on to an over-bearing, arrogant rich young man about his own age. The death of this man, plus a spot of impersonation and forgery, some quick thinking and resourcefulness, put Tom on his path to riches. Of course, it was Tom who did the deed to his friend. Forty minutes into Plein Soleil and Tom Ripley is on his way.

Rene Clement's Plein Soleil (Purple Noon), with an incredibly young and handsome Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, was the first filming of Tom's murderous and successful career. In time we also came to know Tom in Wim Wenders' The American Friend (Ripley's Game) in 1977 with Dennis Hopper as Tom; Anthony Minghella's version of The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), with Matt Damon as Tom, then Liliana Cavani's Ripley's Game in 2002 with John Malkovich as Tom. They all are fine in their own satisfyingly nasty ways, although Wim Wenders' version owes more to Wenders than to Highsmith, and Dennis Hopper as Tom is, in my opinion, a stretch.

Alain Delon not only makes a completely believable young, poor, envious and callow Tom Ripley, he makes us think twice about those quaint ideas of right and wrong. Ripley plots his killings. In the case of Philippe Greenleaf, his first, Greenleaf is so arrogantly wealthy it's a pleasure to reach the moment, on a small yacht in the middle of a sun-drenched Mediterranean, when we know Tom is going to do something about it. Delon (and Clement) entice us into the conspiracy. Tom takes over Greenleaf's identity as well as a good-sized portion of Greenleaf's money, deals with Greenleaf's lover, disposes of loose ends, some alive but one soon to be dead, and deals with the police. But Tom also is an improviser, at his best when he must act or lose everything. Tension bounces back and forth between Ripley's careful planning and then his ability to act, his instincts, his resourcefulness and his luck. Ripley not only is matter-of-fact murderous, he's clever. But be prepared (and this is not a spoiler): The last two minutes are a complete cop-out.

We might be a bit revolted at Tom's activities, but just as we watch that snake in the zoo, we can't help but hope Tom Ripley successfully digests all he attempts to swallow.

So which Tom Ripley of the four versions do you like? Me? Damon does a fine job as the young Tom, but Delon is superb. For the older and more assured Tom, it's Malkovich in a class by himself over the incongruously cast Dennis Hopper. The DVD transfer of Plein Soleil is adequate. The movie deserves a first-class release.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Nov 2014 13:17:48 GMT
Hello,

Does anyone know if the the blu ray releases from Studio Canal Collection are
the same remasterings as the ones from the original Company ?
Do Studio Canal do their own mastering or is it more the
packaging ?

Posted on 7 Dec 2014 20:32:52 GMT
De Riemer writes: 'We might be a bit revolted at Tom's activities'. What, only 'a bit', when Tom butchers three people and tries and fails to kill a third ??
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C. O. DeRiemer
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Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA

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