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When it comes to naming the best films of the 1990's, The Talented Mr.
Ripley hardly ever gets a mention. This is one of cinema's greatest
mysteries; how can a film as well made, constantly intriguing and
brilliantly conceived as this one constantly get passed over? And in
favour of many under deserving films as well? Really strange. Almost as
big a mystery as the one I've just mentioned is the web of intrigue
created here. Through deep, complex characters and situations rich with
double meaning, Anthony Minghella has turned Patricia Highsmith's
original novel into a cinematic masterpiece. The talented Matt Damon
stars as the talented man of the title that is offered $1000 to travel
to Italy to try and return Dickie; the rich and spoilt son of a
millionaire. What follows is a complex, disturbing and fascinating
expose of a man ingratiating himself into the lives of Dickie, his
girlfriend Marge and high society on the whole...
The main reason why The Talented Mr. Ripley works so well is that it's central characters are deep labyrinths that beg to explored and analysed. Every scene is rich with double meaning and character interactions that exist under the surface of the drama we are seeing on screen. The character of Tom Ripley is a true masterpiece of characterisation indeed. This sociopath, that would rather be "a pretend somebody than a real nobody" is a myriad of contradictions and muddled personalities. His actions are always amoral and through his lies and deception, it is obvious that he doesn't care at all for anyone around him. However, despite this; we are still able to feel for him through his tribulations. The story is told in such a way that it is difficult to feel for any of the other characters and all of our sympathies lie with the talented Tom Ripley. This puts the audience in a strange situation, as we're used to hating the antagonist and feeling for the protagonist, but this film turns that on it's head, and to great effect.
The film is helped implicitly by the fact that it's one of the most professionally made films ever to make it onto the screen. Every scene, every action, every line uttered is done with the greatest assurance and nothing at all in the film appears to be there by accident or out of place. The way that the characters interact with each other and their surroundings is always believable and we never question anything that is shown on screen. Anthony Minghella's direction is more than solid, and this is helped by the stunning photography, courtesy of 1950's Italy. Many a film has benefited from Italy's landscape, and this is one of them. This is all great, but it's the performances that put the final finishing touch on this amazing masterclass of film-making. As mentioned, the talented Mr Damon takes the lead role and completely makes it his own. He often gets coupled with his friend, Ben Afleck, when it comes to acting; but this is very unfair as Damon is one of today's brightest stars. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow make up the other two leads. I'm not the biggest fan of either of these two stars, but both, like Damon, give performances here that will always be associated with their personalities. Cate Blanchett has a small role, but the real plaudits for the smaller performances go to the brilliant Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who steals every scene he's in.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is one stunning piece of film. Ignore the people that don't consider this one of the 1990's greatest achievements; they are wrong. The film is a masterpiece of tense situations, great characterisation and professional film-making. And I refuse to hear otherwise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a huge fan of Rene Clement's "Purple Noon" I came to Minghella's version of Patricia Highsmith's story with suspicion and an irrational predisposition to dismiss it. Well, I was wrong. The talented Mr. Minghella perpetrated a magic trick. The film stands on its own as an entertaining, creepy, thoughtful, beautiful to look at piece of film-making. Jude Law throw us for six, we're not suppose to feel attracted to the selfish Dickie Greenleaf, but we do. His scrumptious performance is alluring, seductive. He is a scene stealer of major proportions. In the original, Maurice Ronnet's oily Dickie Greenleaf was a perfect lamb to the slaughter. We don't mourn his death and want the murderous Ripley, as played by Alain Delon, to get away with it. Here, when Jude Law is on the screen that's what we're looking at. We're prepared to forgive him anything and everything. I did believed in Gwyneth Paltrow's qualm, totally. In the original, Marie Laforet played it as a tenuous, unclear little excuse. Gwyneth Paltrow gives us a multi dimensional character and we go through her torment every step of the way. That, presumably, is merit in great part of Minghella's superb screenplay. Other joys are Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman. On the minus side Matt Damon couldn't make me forget Alain Delon. His Ripley is a better written character than Delon's and his performance is top notch, but Delon was breathtaking on the screen. I think than Anthony Minghella was more interested in the inner workings of Ripley's mind that in the pyrotechnics of a implausible plot. Good. The semi confession of Matt Damon about a basement full of secret truths tells us about his pain about his fear. Delon's Ripley is amoral to the hilt. The murder of Dickie in the original is terrifying. It takes forever. As well as the getting rid of Freddy's body. Minghella never show us how Ripley managed to bring a dead body down the stairs. Clement spends a great deal of time with it. Making it enormously suspenseful. But, as I mentioned before we did care about Delon and, maybe, Minghella new that whether Damon got caught or not wasn't that important. All in all I liked the film very much and the biggest lesson from a film fanatic's point of view is: you don't kill your Jude Law half way through a film unless you leave us in the hands of someone who will make us forget him. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, remember that?
Patricia Highsmith's original novel is about a charming, amoral man who
already has all the elements in place before he does his terrible deeds, and
while Rene Clement's adaptation, PURPLE NOON(1960) doesn't show us Ripley
before he came to Europe, Alain Delon certainly was all amoral charm. In
his adaptation, Anthony Minghella takes on a different tack, showing us Tom
Ripley before he became the Talented Mr. Ripley(just as last year's
ELIZABETH showed Elizabeth before she became The Virgin Queen; by
coincidence, both films star Cate Blanchett). When a filmmaker tries to add
psychological depth to what is generally pulp entertainment, it doesn't
always work, but Minghella has pulled it off, while keeping it
There have been some people who think Matt Damon is too colorless here. In Clement's adaptation, that might have been true, but the point here is Ripley is SUPPOSED to be a nonentity, a blank page waiting to be filled(thus lines like "I always figured it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody," or when Dickie Greenleaf(Jude Law) tells Ripley that with his glasses on, he looks like Clark Kent) by someone like Dickie. Ripley may have been pretending from day one(which is how he gets to meet Dickie in the first place), but there was nothing sinister about it, just a bunch of little white lies. It's not till he gets entranced by the life in Italy, and Dickie's life in particular, and then finds himself shut from it, that things happen. And Damon is excellent at going through the transformation(and it's not just the glasses, as one comment suggested, it's the hair, the clothes, and the whole attitude).
Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, probably my favorite critic today, liked the film, but he thought it would have been better if Damon and Law had switched roles. Again, if Minghella was remaking Clement's version, sure, but not this way. If you want someone to be an object of desire, you better make sure they're desirable, and Law is quite good there, along with showing the layers underneath. Gwyneth Paltrow has the tougher role, because she has to be both smart and able to be fooled, but she pulls it off, especially in the scene when she tells Tom she really knows what he is. Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman are also good in small roles, James Rebhorn is dependable, and Philip Baker Hall makes a memorable cameo.
One more thing; there have also been complaints that the first half is too long, and the ending is weak. The first half not only sets up Ripley's slowly falling in love with Dickie's life(and even Dickie), but also sets up some plot points which pay off later, so it's necessary. And when Ripley finally becomes The Talented Mr. Ripley, it's unsettling and still delivers a perverse kick. As for the ending, without giving anything away, it's the only way it could end; he goes on, but at what cost? This is terrific moviemaking.
I was so fascinated by Tom Ripley's character that I watched this movie
again and again. There was something about him that I felt sympathetic
towards on one hand and gave me the creeps on the other. Sympathetic
because in more than one ways he is like you and me. He wants to be
rich, he wants approval and he is may be just an opportunist. Creepy
because he latches on like a leech, he can't take rejection and though
he doesn't plan but once he assumes the identity of someone else he can
go to any extent to keep that. Actually one can identify with the
character so much that it's almost scary to look inside your dark
Matt Damon played this three-dimensional character so well that I almost became a huge fan of his. Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, whose identity Tom Ripley steals was very good as well. The movie is shot in Italy, moves at a leisurely speed and is very atmospheric. One of my all time favorite thrillers.
Seeing this gorgeous tango between Damon and Law, I was never less than captivated and riveted. Minghella has fashioned something literate, powerful, seductive, charming, tragic, and beautiful. His casting is nearly perfect. Damon is unforgettable as an amoral but fascinating character whom we even sympathize with by film's end. Law is stunning as Dickie, the man whose life Ripley adores. Paltrow is good, though she is not given a whole lot to do. Blanchett is perfect in a small but pivotal role that only adds to her already impressive filmography. This is a near-masterpiece. Minghella's talent for visual opulence is second to none, and his work here should earn him a directing Oscar nod. The same goes for many others associated with this brilliant achievement. The ending is as unsuspected as it is inevitable, that is, sad and unsettling. In fact, the whole film underscores these emotions. Whereas Highsmith's original novel was cold and sometimes inert, the film makes Ripley much more of a living, breathing character, and as such, a great symbol of tragedy. It may be some time before I forget this intense experience. Certainly one that deserves multiple viewings. One of the best films of 1999. I think this may be one of the best pictures I have ever seen. Bravo everyone. A moving, rich knockout!
Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley gets a deluxe reincarnation here, merit of the talented Mr. Minghella. A sensational script adaptation, stunning Italian locations and an extraordinary supporting cast. Tom Ripley saw the light before, most memorably with the face of Alain Delon in another beautiful outing by the underrated Rene Clement. This time, the winning feature is the superbly tailored script that gets inside the heads of the characters giving us a full panoramic view of their privileges as well as their desolation. Tom Ripley, the amoral, becomes the tortured immoral here. Anthony Minghella gives him a conscience, a self-awareness giving the tale an extra chilling touch. Matt Damon's natural dullness works wonders here. This may be his best performance to date. But it is the supporting cast that makes "The Talented Mr. Ripley" fly so high. Jude Law as the spoiled, vain and ultimately cruel Dickie Greenlef is truly remarkable. His worthlessness, crystal clear for everyone to see, becomes irrelevant due to the astonishing charisma and oodles of sexiness that Jude Law exudes. That, in itself, makes Gwynneth Paltrow's character totally believable. She's an intelligent woman who must know Dickie for what he is but she puts that aside and we don't question it. Philip Seymour Hoffman's Freddie is a fully fleshed out character who's on the screen for a few minutes but leaves and indelible impression. Great fun to witness his two faces. Creepy and wonderful. But it is Cate Blanchett, in a creation worthy of W Somerset Maughan that becomes the icing on this scrumptious cake. I would love to see a film where her Meredith is the central character. This "Talented Mr. Ripley" cemented my film relationship with Anthony Minghella. I wait for his films with childish anticipation.
First of all, I saw this movie twice, which is a rarety in itself these days. The actors did what all actors should do in a successful motion picture, or stage play, and that is submit their own egos to the needs of the production. Matt Damon especially surprised me with his total devotion to the part of Ripley. Jude Law, once again, proved his talents as an actor by becoming Dickie Greenleaf. Paltrow and Blanchett also totally believed in whom they were playing and brought that to the screen. While I have been told that the movie is different than the book, I applaud Mingella for his tight script and seamless direction. Yet again, we are given a prime example that when violence grows out of a strong plot we, as an audience, accept it. There was not wasted motion or emotion in this film and I cannot say enough good things about it. I am surprised that the Academy so overlooked this film. Go see it.
I'll admit that I rented "The Talented Mr. Ripley" without the slightest
clue about what the story entailed. However, this caused no problem as I
soon became involved in the twisted and rather bizarre plot; I was
immediately interested in the movie as it was unique and unusual right
Matt Damon portrays the mysterious Mr. Ripley, who, more or less, remains a mystery throughout the film. I was intrigued at how, when you first see him on screen, you are given the impression that he is nothing more than a shy, innocent, and intellectual young man who pretty much keeps to himself. However, this image is only visable for the first five minutes or so, and is virtually shattered once he accepts the offer to go to Italy in search of Mr. Greenleaf's son, Dickie. I was fascinated at how rapidly his personality altered, and suddenly I understood that he was rather odd, as he deceived Mr. Greenleaf in the first place by wearing a Princeton jacket and pretending that he knew Dickie. Now, I haven't explained this entirely, as those of you who have seen this film know, as I am not writing this to create a summary of the plot, but rather to give my comments. Basically, Mr. Greenleaf saw Ripley playing the piano at a wedding wearing a Princeton jacket, and since his son also went to Princeton, he asks Ripley if, by any chance, he knew Dickie. Of course, since Ripley never went to Princeton in the first place, he couldn't possibly have known Dickie. Despite this fact, however, Ripley says that he did know him, and that they were friends. As soon as he says this, he manages to get himself in a deep hole of trouble as Mr. Greenleaf asks him to go to Italy to try and retrieve his son, as he couldn't do it himself due to that fact that Dickie wouldn't listen to his father following a serries of arguments.
I thought that the acting was brilliant, especially that of Jude Law (Dickie) and Matt Damon. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of the film, and I felt that all the characters were believable in their own ways. I believe this to be a splendidly clever story, which is well written and directed. I thought that the music playing during most of the film was excellent as it matched the strange, eerie atmosphere of the story beautifully.
I would like to conclude this review by saying that this is a very good movie with an unusually unpredictable ending; it's nice to see a movie that doesn't finish perfectly for a change.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It can definitely be considered an "intelligent" thriller. And I think that Matt Damon made a good choice choosing this role. He gets to explore the darker side of a character, a change for him, and he does so very well! On the outside he appears so wholesome and harmless but if you watch his eyes, they can give you a chill. And I must say that Jude Law, an actor I had not seen much of before I saw this film, also gave a great performance. He has great charm and you can almost understand why "Mr. Ripley" would go to such great lengths to possess his life. Damon did a good job of conveying how desperate he was to be someone with a life worth coveting. Don't be put off by how long it is, it is worth the watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are a lot of reasons to see THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. It is not your
typical, run of the mill Hollywood thriller. In fact, it is refreshingly
chilling and Matt Damon turns in what is by far his best acting job to date.
He is able to shed the "Will Hunting" image here with a juicy role. It is
a personality twisting story unlike, say, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, which was
highly conventional and more of a slasher picture. I would equate it more
with Ingmar Bergman's PERSONA. The audience is never totally clear as to
why "Tom Ripley" wants to consume another personality which is all the more
Anthony Minghella, director of ENGLISH PATIENT, sets the stage in late 1950's Italy, an exotic locale which adds to the suspense. As the film progresses and it becomes more apparent there is something deeply wrong with Damon, you almost begin to root for him to get away with his malicious acts. He is so effective as the quietly psychotic Ripley because his actions do not seem planned. He just kind of takes what is not his without reason.
The beauty of Rome, Venice, and Gwyneth Paltrow tends to hide the inner turmoil going on with Damon's character and Jude Law is oblivious to it most of the time. The madness builds slowly and Law, as the target of Damon's consuming desire, realizes it too late. Law has the looks and mannerisms of a 50's matinee idol which fits perfectly within the context of the film.
Some people have said THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY is like a Hitchcock film for the 90's. I would have to agree. Damon's ability to portray a fully realized, human leach is amazing at times and the fact that I actually had some sympathy for him proves it. There are scenes of utter shock and dismay, but it is the drowning build to the inevitable murder and mayhem that grabs you.
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