Patricia Highsmith, known for her Strangers on a Train novel, produced a wonderful book called The Talented Mr. Ripley (the first in a series centering on the title character). But the story of Tom Ripley has endured a provocative look into a remorseless sociopath. Fans have adored the character of Mr. Ripley. So it’s only naturally that the novel would be adapted into a film. I’ve watched Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and Rene Clement’s Purple Noon. So which fares better?
Well, it depends on a matter of taste and preference. Each film has the same plot, same location, and same characters revolving around the plot of Tom Ripley sent to Europe to retrieve his playboy son, Phillip, but turns into a thriller as Ripley reveals his true nature. If you like foreign films and the decade of the 1960s, then Purple Noon suits you the best. But I would have to say the Talented Mr. Ripley is superior in many ways. The plot is more detailed in suspense tracing all the way to Ripley in San Francisco. The music is more vibrant and jazzier than its predecessor, and evokes a good period style of the jazzy and Italian style of the 1950s. And who could forget the all-star cast: Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Cate Blanchett. There both equal worth deserving to be screened. The endings are different, but I won’t spoil that. But Purple Noon has one superior factor: the characterization of Tom Ripley.
Matt Damon plays the title character in Max Minghella’s film and he’s slightly above average. He plays the character with too much vulnerability and not enough of the confidence that Ripley truly is. He has a sense of a homosexual undertone that defeats the allure of the character making him too vulnerable as his plans go by a whim of accident. But in Purple Noon, Tom Ripley is played by Alain Delon to perfection, even Highsmith agreed when the movie was first released. First, he is absolutely beautiful with his piercing blue eyes and devilish smile. His characterization is more confident as his schemes are more naturally malicious. More sinister, more beautiful, and his style is far superior with sockless loafers, white pants, suits, and black shirts that drape his body. So The Talented Mr. Ripley is slightly superior with it’s exception, but Purple Noon has the notable exception of Alain Delon. And it’s a major exception.