Purple Noon Movie Review
This time out it's Rene Clement's mystery-drama (based on the book The Talented Mr. Ripley) about wealthy jerk Phillippe, his adoring (but poor) best friend Tom (Alain Delon), and the redhead (Marge) they both adore (Marie Laforet). Caught up in the greed and envy that comes along with wealth like Phillippe's, Tom hatches a plot to rid the world of Phillippe and take over his life. Fine, well, the only suprising thing about this is how quickly he succeeds at the plan (after about 30 minutes) -- at which point, the movie becomes one of Tom hatching part 2 of the plan... and the movie starts to get interesting.
Tom soon finds his plan to be not quite as well-laid as previously thought, and it becomes trickier and trickier for him to evade discovery. Carrying on two lives (Phillippe's and his own), is not for the weak-willed.
While Purple Noon lacks the edge-of-your-seat suspense that modern thrillers have, it still packs a wallop into its spare story. But more importantly, the film is such an oddball example of the genre, we find ourselves wanting Tom to get away with the crime, despite its heinous nature. Very odd indeed.
My main problems with Purple Noon are its tedious narrative and lack of production values. Its 1960s sensibilities, crummy music, poor film stock, and aquatic settings make the film look more like a lost episode of Hawaii Five-O than a great thriller. Also, the sheer number of "false endings" (at least three), reek of amateurism. The subtitles could also use some work.
Overall, I enjoyed the film, although it tends to drag in places and lacks the force of something like Belle de Jour, which Scorsese re-released in 1995. Delon and Laforet are/were both fine actors, and Clement's direction is passable. Then again, considering the state of the medium 36 years ago, I'm sure he was doing an excellent job.
Why it's called Purple Noon is anyone's guess. (French title: Plein Soleil)
My my, Marie, what a big pole you have!