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The French Ripley - A Perfect Man


Un Homme Idéal

Some say Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr Ripley is a contender for the great American novel. I'm inclined to agree. I think it holds its own against The Great Gatsby, and shares a similar theme of outsider wanting in.

The French were the first to have a bash at bringing Ripley to screen in 1960 with Purple Noon — a stylish film adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley, as can be seen from the photographic evidence here. I will consider any Ripley adaptations or reproductions. The 2015 French film Un Homme Idéal [Amazon], directed by Yann Gozlan, has been described as a Ripley-like story.

Having watched this new film, I can confirm that a Ripley comparison is spot on. It's a very tense thriller, winding up the tension like the rigging on an America's Cup superyacht.

Struggling Writer Does Something Naughty

The film begins with a struggling writer, played by the excellent and very French-looking Pierre Niney (surrounding this text) — What a Gallic profile! — who does something naughty. The talented Mr Niney also played Yves Saint Laurent in a reasonable biopic the previous year.

Pierre's character, Mathieu Vasseur, comes across the memoirs of a deceased French army veteran that describe his time during the Algerian war. I think it was the Algerian war. Anyway, it's a terrific memoir. Mathieu realises the potential of the memoirs and fakes them as his own work of fiction.

Publishers immediately scramble to acquire the rights. Mathieu gets the adulation and rewards he craved. What follows is an increasingly desperate attempt to stop the deception unravelling. Hitchcock would have applauded the scene setting. I can say no more. Watch it before Hollywood bigwigs produce an inferior version.


Tuck Your Polo Shirt In

Un Homme Idéal is as stylish as the France of our imaginations. The reality, well, who needs it?

In terms of dress, one thing I noted was the tucking in of polo shirts. We approve. I think polo shirts have been left untucked for long enough now. From an untucked polo shirt it's a steady decent to tracksuit bottoms and flip-flops.

The classic white Lacoste polo shirt worn by the Mathieu character looks so good in the sunshine with a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

Sticking to the trusted classics, you can look cool as a cucumber even when the house of cards you've assembled is crashing in around you.

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