Plein Soleil (R/I)
Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt
In celebration of the centenary of director René Clément, a beautiful new 4K restoration of Plein Soleil, starring Alain Delon, will be released in cinemas on 30 August 2013.
This new 4K restoration has been produced by Studiocanal in association with the Cinémathèque Française, and with the Franco-American Cultural Fund’s support. L’Immagine Ritrovata, a laboratory in Bologna, handled the restoration work. The restoration premiered in Cannes this May.
Plein Soleil is a striking study of a glamorous and complex psychopath from Oscar-winning French director René Clément (Forbidden Games, Is Paris Burning?), featuring a career-defining turn from a young, beautiful, ultra-cool Alain Delon, The film was the first adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s best-selling novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Dennis Hopper and Matt Damon have also both appeared as Tom Ripley onscreen (in films by Wim Wenders and Anthony Minghella respectively), but arguably neither match up to the ice-cold portrayal by a then 24 year-old Delon, in the role that made him a star.
Tom Ripley (Alain Delon: Le Cercle Rouge, Le Samouraï, L’eclisse, Rocco and His Brothers) is hired by a rich American to bring his errant son Philippe (Maurice Ronet: Lift to the Scaffold, Le scandale) back home to the US.
Tom travels to Italy, where Philippe is on an extended holiday with his fiancée Marge (Marie Laforêt: Joyeuses Pâques), and slowly begins to ingratiate himself into their glamorous, carefree lives. An ambiguous relationship develops between the two men, with Philippe never missing an opportunity to remind Ripley of the yawning chasm between their social standing. But when Ripley realises that Philippe is tiring of his company, he hatches a plan to kill his friend whilst the two are at sea together on a voyage, dumping his body overboard. When he arrives back on dry land, Ripley begins the process of assuming Philippe’s identity, slowly taking over the life that he always envied and that is now finally within his grasp…
Highsmith, who also wrote Strangers on a Train, was herself very pleased with the film and called it “very beautiful to the eye and interesting for the intellect.” Another Highsmith adaptation, Two Faces of January, opens later this year, and Todd Haynes is currently set to direct an adaptation of Carol.
Henri Decaë (The 400 Blows, Lift to the Scaffold, Bob le Flambeur, Les bonnes femmes) was responsible for the glorious sun-drenched cinematography in Plein Soleil, restored here to all its former glory, alongside a wonderfully unsettling score composed by Nino Rota (The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, La Dolce Vita, 8½, The Leopard).
René Clément was one of France’s great post-World War II era directors. Studying as an architect originally, it was at the Ecole-des-Beaux-Arts that he developed an interest in filmmaking. In 1936 he directed his first film – a short written by and starring Jacques Tati. Clément then spent most of the latter part of the 1930s making documentaries. After the war he directed his first feature: La Bataille du rail (1945), about the French resistance, which was a critical and commercial success. He twice won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film – including Forbidden Games, along with many other awards throughout his career.