Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Crime, Drama
  • 1960
  • 118 mins

Plein Soleil

Plein Soleil

Synopsis

Alain Delon plays the murderous Mr Ripley in this stylish French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel

About

Patricia Highsmith had already garnered fame in 1951 when her first novel, 'Strangers On A Train', became fodder for Alfred Hitchcock, but it wasn't until 1960 that her work was again adapted for cinema with René Clément's Plein Soleil. A French version of the first in her series of Tom Ripley novels, 1955's 'The Talented Mr Ripley', it features a young Alain Delon as the enigmatic villain who's not adverse to murder and identity theft.

The film opens with Ripley in Rome, having been sent over to retrieve Philippe Greenleaf (Ronet) and return him to his parents in San Francisco. Philippe has other ideas and wants to continue his hedonistic adventures in Italy with his girlfriend Marge (Duval), and Tom temporarily along for the ride. It's only when he catches Tom trying on his clothes and mimicking him in the mirror that Philippe decides he and Marge would be better off alone. But by tricking Marge into thinking Philippe has been unfaithful and prompting her to leave, Tom sets into motion his sinister plot to dispense with Philippe and assume his identity in order to attain his lavish lifestyle, his money, and eventually his girlfriend.

Played by a sleek and beautiful Delon, Ripley isn't an archetypal psycho, but this is not an archetypal thriller. As in Highsmith's novels, Ripley is an extremely appealing character who's continually pushing the mark to see how far he can go without getting caught. And therein lies the horror; the quietly unfolding notion that Ripley is not just acting out of self-preservation, but out of a narcissistic indulgence of his own cleverness. Watching him flawlessly improvise his way out of precarious situations makes us root for this amoral man, and at some points it's almost as if he knows this too.

Beautifully photographed along the incongruously picturesque Amalfi coast, the film is characterised by Henri Decaë's elegant cinematography as well as Nino Rota's excellent score. Two elements that more than compensate for Clément's decision to change Highsmith's ending.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Erno Crisa, Frank Latimore, Maurice Ronet, Alain Delon, Bill Kearns
  • Director: René Clément
  • Writer: René Clément, Paul Gégauff
  • Producer: Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim
  • Composer: Nino Rota

In a nutshell

Stylish and intelligent, Clément's French Ripley is an excellent first outing for this charming villain who continues to have an enduring cinematic appeal.

by Laura Bushell

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Serena

    Romantic drama set in Depression-era North Carolina starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

    On Film4: 3 Oct 9:00PM

  • Film4

    Destry

    Audie Murphy stars in this remake of 1939's Destry Rides Again, which is directed by the man who made that previous version, George Marshall.

    On Film4: 5 Oct 12:40PM

  • Film4

    Macbeth on Film4

    Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in Justin Kurzel's gripping adaptation of Macbeth, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Film4

    Lone Survivor on Film4

    Mark Wahlberg stars in exciting military action-drama Lone Survivor, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share