December 22, 2015
This video is a tribute to Plein Soleil (Purple Noon), the French 1960 Rene Clement film starring Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet and Marie LaForet, and based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. I felt like Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra would be a good match for the sun-drenched, breezy setting of the film, but once they are paired together and you have shots of Alain Delon's conniving, shifty Tom Ripley playing against the moody summer ballad, Sinatra's words become fraught with double meaning ("my fickle friend") and the laid-back melody is suddenly laced with a more sinister undertone.
I only saw Plein Soleil for the first time this year, but I've already watched it three times, including once on the big screen at The Film Forum (!!) and after the first viewing it had already edged its way into my top four favorite films. Like all of my favorite movies, I have a hard time pinpointing exactly what it is about a film that warrants my devotion. It's more of a gut-reaction, that I see a movie and feel an instant, immediate connection. As if we were movie soulmates.
If you aren't a fan of foreign film (yet!) I feel like this is a really good place to start. While I'm personally a fan of art-house dramas with sparse dialogue, I feel like a lot of people think that is the only thing foreign films have to offer and choose to stay away. Plein Soleil has no shortage of symbolism and artsy cinematography, but on the surface the movie is interesting, beautiful, suspenseful, well-paced, and the structure will feel familiar enough to anyone whose movie repertoire is usually comprised of products of Hollywood.
Plein Soleil might not speak to your soul the way it speaks to mine, but if you haven't seen it yet I urge you to give it a watch. It's available to stream as part of the Criterion collection on Hulu Plus, and it's available to rent on Amazon here.