I wouldn’t call this a neo-noir, but it’s closer to Highsmith’s noir writing than (the beautiful travelogue) The Talented Mr. Ripley. I also prefer Malkovich’s much more calculating Ripley to Damon’s by a long shot.
Posts tagged The Talented Mr. Ripley
This film is an excellent example of the differences between noir and film noir. Patricia Highsmith is a grand dame of noir fiction, and wrote five novels about protagonist Tom Ripley (usually described as “amoral” and/or “sexually ambiguous”). The Ripliad (as the books are collectively known) are noir at its finest—as is Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train.
But the film The Talented Mr. Ripley is not noir. Its gorgeous, sun-drenched cinematography inhibits—if not precludes—noir. It’s a fine film, to be sure. But it doesn’t capture the menace with which Highsmith imbues Ripley. More to the point, Matt Damon does not really depict the cold, clever genius of Ripley. Both murders (SPOILER ALERT!) are spur-of-the-moment responses to threats. We don’t see Tom Ripley as cold-blooded chess player in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Given that this is Ripley’s ultimate talent, I have to say I found the movie disappointing.
The Composites is a fascinating new blog that takes literary descriptions and generates computer sketches. I don’t think the hair is quite right, but that isn’t too surprising. I doubt the computer software knows that description hails from the 1930s.
Other noir figures that have made it onto the blog are Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley (the description is taken from The Talented Mr. Ripley; Ripley’s appearance changes through the Ripliad) and Pinkie Brown from Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.
Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The V motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down—from high flat temples—in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan. (Suggested by http://exygoddess.tumblr.com )