22 February 2011 | blanche-2
Superior to the Minghella version
Alain Delon stars as Tom Ripley in "Purple Noon," an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley." There is another filming of the same book in 1999 starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow, which I didn't care for.
Patricia Highsmith was happy with all of this film except for the ending, which differs from her book, the first of a series. She really liked Delon as Ripley, and it's clear why. He does an excellent job as the suave, charming Tom who hides all of his amorality beneath the veil of a chiseled face and beautiful smile. Delon is one of the great matinée idols, really at the height of his fabulous looks here.
Unlike the Minghella version, which I found preposterous, this story makes more sense and becomes absolutely riveting once Ripley gets rid of his rival Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) and steals his identity. Rene Clement is a wonderful director, and the scene in the restaurant where Tom makes sure he is overheard talking to Marge (Marie Laforet) is especially good. The camera work is excellent throughout and a little unusual.
I, too, did not care for the ending, which was not Highsmith's.
One thing i've never bought about this story is the fact that Ripley hung around the same area as Marge and Philippe's friends after becoming him. That to me was a big problem in the Minghella film, which was made worse by some dumb scenes. Though I still don't understand it, it was easier to take in this film.
Like the Minghella version, Purple Noon is glorious to look at, with a more European flavor than The Talented Mr. Ripley. Highly recommended.