Plein Soleil (Purple Noon)

The French New Wave was the dominant force in film making around the world between the early ‘50s and late ‘60s. Whilst the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer & François Truffaut became household names, there were a whole raft of French directors connected with the movement. René Clément is one the great post-war French director who. Whilst seldom associated with the whole scene, is responsible for several masterpieces including Forbidden Games, Paris Burning? and Plein Soleil.

Tom Ripley (Alain Delon) has been sent to Italy to persuade his rich friend Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) to return to America to take over his father’s business. However, Philippe is in love with Marge (Marie Laforêt) and his life of leisure, so the pair spend their time loafing around Italy. Tom covets his friend’s life whilst his Philippe soon gets fed up of his fawning and begins to treat him cruelly. During a yacht trip a plan forms in Tom’s mind to get what he wants, and he begins to put it into action.

Whilst most people are probably more familiar with Anthony Minghella’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, Matt Damon is no Alain Delon. The French legend brings a perfect mix of boyish innocence and febrile intelligence to the role of Tom Ripley. As you’d expect, the plot and action does not so much as race along, but sneaks up on you. Played more as a psychological drama than a thriller, Plein Soleil is still mesmeric and is well worth watching on a big screen in this beautiful restoration.

Screening now at the Showroom