Friday, February 12, 2016
Movie Review: PURPLE NOON (1960)
Concluding Unofficial Ripley Week, I wanted to write in more detail about René Clément's adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, which he called Plein Soleil but comes to us in English as Purple Noon.
Clément changed a few things- the characterization of Dickie (here called Philippe) and the ending- but for the most part it's a pretty straight-up (no pun intended) adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1950 classic crime novel about the man who comes to Europe to bring home the errant son of a shipping magnate but instead becomes obsessed with him and his idle-rich lifestyle. What happens next is murder.
The movie starts full tilt in the middle of the story- when Tom and Philippe/Dickie are having a wild night together in Rome. Little by little the backstory unravels and we learn how little Philippe knows about Tom. Philippe's girlfriend Marge is no fan of Tom, and she and Philippe have issues too, like his skirt-chasing, which Tom tries to use to drive a wedge between them. The homoerotic elements of the novel are touched on just enough. Then the violence, then Tom's time passing himself off as Philippe, then the grisly ending that I for one did not see coming.
Purple Noon is a great movie to watch right now in the Northeast US as we struggle under temps in the teens and frequent snowfalls. Nothing will make you forget winter like Clement's sun-drenched Rome and Amalfi Coast, all that beautiful sunlight. But it's a dark movie despite the sunshine. Tom Ripley is full of spite and envy, beautiful but sinister and evil.
Definitely make some time for Purple Noon this winter. It's available to stream on Hulu, or on DVD from your favorite rental outlet.