The American Friend

The American Friend ★★★★

"There's nothing to fear but fear itself. I know less and less about who I am, or who anybody else is."

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Film #30: The American Friend (1977)

In The American Friend, Wim Wenders takes the basic structure of Patricia Highsmith's famous novel Ripley's Game and transforms it into an unforgettable slice of German noir fiction.

Interestingly, Highsmith herself was highly disappointed with the loose adaptive style of Wenders' film and felt that Wenders failed to capture the essence of Ripley's character, but changed her mind after a second viewing a few months later when she began to praise the style and Hopper's performance. And it's with good reason: Wenders managed to create a complete departure from the style of either Highsmith's novel or another previous Ripley adaptation, René Clément's Purple Noon, yet without losing sight of the essence of Tom Ripley and what makes him such a fascinating character.

Furthermore, the performances by both Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz are purely transcendent and outstanding, both of them vanishing entirely into their characters.

This film has been praised for evoking the noir feeling of the classics of the '40s and '50s, and Wenders' style was undoubtedly the perfect gateway for this peculiar European noir atmosphere that fits Ripley's character so vividly.

1977 Ranked

The Criterion Challenge 2021
Task #24: Any film on The Criterion Channel

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