Movie review: Plein Soleil - restored version on Blu-ray
It's no wonder director René Clément is often cited as the French Hitchcock, as his classic Plein Soleil beautifully illustrates.
Starring French icon Alain Delon in his breakout role, this 1960 film is based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel The Talented Mr Ripley.
Hanging out in Rome is French playboy Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet) and his chum Tom Ripley (Delon). Philippe most certainly has more money than sense, as he enjoys all the pleasures of life. His idea of fun however, can leave others cold, as he's happy to make fun of others whatever the expense. Tom is extremely tolerant however, and joins in however he can.
The more time they spend together, the more fractious their relationship seems. Tom doesn't have anywhere near the kind of money that Philippe flaunts, and certainly puts up with a certain amount of abuse to enjoy it.
Things between them take a darker turn when the pair, along with Philippe's girlfriend Marge (Marie Laforȇt), take a trip on his sailing boat together. Due to some friction between them, Philippe drops Marge off in a huff, before sailing off again. With just the two of them now, Tom puts into motion his plan, that of getting rid of Philippe and taking on his identity. But is he really smart enough to fool not only his friends and family, but the authorities too?
It was his role as Ripley that turned Alain Delon into an international star. Delon himself, in an interview on the Blu-ray, puts this down to working with such a great director. Delon was still new to the whole acting thing and learnt a great deal from the experienced director. It's certainly understated, with Delon and his striking good looks, playing it cool throughout.
Clément also excels in the direction, although he injects a minimal amount of tension into proceedings. It certainly would have been far darker all round in Hitchcock's mischievous hands, that's for sure. At times it looks more like a gorgeous travelogue, with its beautiful wide-angled vistas, than a thriller. And with this restored version, everything sparkles that little bit more, including that glint in Delon's eyes.
It's certainly not edge-of-your-seat stuff, but it certainly holds your attention right up to the very last frame.
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