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45 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

The Talented Mr. Damon is Great in this Tense Psychological Thriller.

Author: Donald J. Lamb from Philadelphia, PA
22 January 2000

*** 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 mysterious.

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.

RATING: ***1/2

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30 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Elegant, literary thriller

Author: Libretio
23 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS

Whilst in Italy, a young American chancer (Matt Damon) assumes the identity of a wealthy playboy (Jude Law) with whom he's become emotionally obsessed, leading to murder and betrayal on a grand scale.

Elegant, literary thriller based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (the subject of an earlier adaptation, PLEIN SOLEIL, in 1960), in which sociopathic anti-hero Tom Ripley (Damon) cheats, steals and murders his way to a position of huge good fortune, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. Set against the backdrop of tourist Italy - encompassing Rome and Venice and all points in between - Anthony Minghella's film is a compelling treat from start to finish, layering detail upon detail as Damon's friendship with Law blossoms and sours, leading to an inevitable plot twist which introduces a whole new set of complications for the central characters, rendering the audience complicit in Ripley's escalating crime wave.

Damon may seem a little too young and unworldly for such a complex character, but he judges the role with great sensitivity, especially in those scenes where (overtly or otherwise) he indicates a sexual attraction to Law which goes unreciprocated (or does it?), until the characters are driven apart by jealousy, bitterness and - ultimately - violence. His fantasies shattered by harsh reality, Damon finds solace in the arms of a mutual acquaintance (Jack Davenport), the only person capable of taking Law's place in Damon's affections, only for their chance of happiness to be snatched away by a cruel trick of fate. Terrific, Oscar-caliber support by Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman (as Law's fiancée and best friend, respectively); beautiful, classy production values throughout. Followed by RIPLEY'S GAME (2002).

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14 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Implausible plot in scenic settings

Author: bootlebarth from Australia
28 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'The Talented Mr Ripley' is a very silly film. It is a perfect example of how style can triumph over substance. From start to finish the plot is 100% nonsense. A geekish lavatory attendant (Tom Ripley/Matt Damon) stands in as an accompanist wearing a borrowed Princeton blazer. This is enough for a shipping magnate in the audience to finance him to go to Italy and bring back his playboy son (Dickie Greenleaf/Jude Law).

Ripley falls in love with Dickie's life and with Dickie himself. For a while he manages to attach himself, leechlike, to the black sheep. His first advances, hinting at a game of nude bathtub chess, are rebuffed. An improbable turning point occurs when the hithertho nerdish Tom slices open the side of Dickie's head with an oar during an unlikely boat trip for two and then beats him to a lifeless pulp in the biffo that follows.

From this point, Ripley leads a double life, as himself and his victim. When rumbled by one of Dickie's old chums (Freddie/Philip Seymour Hoffman) he turns to murder again. The net seems to be closing in but Ripley keeps wriggling free.

Writer/Director Antony Minghella uses the oldest trick in the book to distract viewers from the hollowness of the plot. Just as a skillful conjuror diverts the gaze of the audience from where the trick is really happening, so Minghella disengages our critical faculties with picturesque backdrops of Rome, Venice and even Jude Law's posterior.

The cast do well enough, apart from Matt Damon who wouldn't have got a look in at a 'Queer as Folk' audition. None of the characters they play invite empathy, so the viewer scarcely cares who might live or die, and whether Ripley will get away with his literally incredible double life.

Surely the hard-boiled American private detective hired by Greenleaf Senior will unravel the tissue of lies and coincidences? Nope. Fade to unreadable titles and who cares? The stars of this film are the locations and the art direction. Without them it would be the disaster the absurd and wholly unbelievable plot deserves.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

The Superfluous Man

Author: pekinman from Illinois
14 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anthony Minghella's adaptation of 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' possesses more depth and poses more questions than first viewings would indicate. At first viewing I was baffled by what motivated these people aside from simple selfishness on the part of the rich kids and class envy on the part of Tom Ripley. Since that first time I have thought about the various clues scattered along the way that Minghella throws out to help us along.

The most important scene in this film, I think, is when Tom (Matt Damon) and Meredith (Cate Blanchett) attend the opera in Rome. On stage is the duel scene from Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin'. Lenski, Onegin's closest friend, has offended Onegin who has challenged him to a duel. Lenski, the simple musician, sings the last bit of his aria and then the two men do their paces and Onegin shoots Lenski dead.

The key to Tom Ripley's enigmatic character and motivations in relation to the opera is; in the 19th century literature, in this case Pushkin, Onegin represented a type of man that was becoming extinct for various reasons, mostly cultural as a result of political disasters, the usual story. Onegin is what the Russians called a "lishny chelovek" or "superfluous man." A man with sensitivity and intelligence but doomed to have these qualities corrupted for want of a proper outlet in the society of his time. That is Tom Ripley.

The interesting thing is, Tom Ripley is also Lenski, the simple musician, the lover, the sentimentalist. So, the operatic scene in this film symbolizes the self-immolation of Tom Ripley in the form of Eugene Onegin, the superfluous man, killing Lenski, the simple and gifted musician. This suicide explains a lot in the context of what ultimately happens in this film. It explains why Ripley does what he does on a fundamental level.

Ripley has been left with no place to stand by the society of the plutocracy whose children, represented by Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), Marge, his fiancé (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Meredith the society girl from New York (Blanchett). All action stems from this fundamental twist in Ripley's psyche.

The first time I saw this movie I was flummoxed, but now, if I am right about the scene at the opera house, I think I understand what makes these characters tick, which makes the film all that more interesting.

There is some wonderful acting here too. Jude Law got all of the attention at the time of the release, and he is very good, but it is Matt Damon's astonishing performance as the geeky, pathetic Ripley that boggles the mind. Cate Blanchett turns what could have been a nothing, stereotyped part into a tour-de-force of subtle comedy and pathos, reminding me more than once of "Little" Edie Beale (Grey Gardens), the poor little rich girl with a heart of gold who can't find love because of the limitations placed upon her by the society in which she grew up. An intelligent young woman raised to be an empty-headed breeder.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is wonderfully repulsive as Dickie's old chum from Princeton, with his beady-eyed, nastiness towards the "leech" Ripley. Gwyneth Paltrow is very good as the author who loves Dickie and is the only one who cottons on to what has happened to him but no one believes her.

There is also sly satire at work here as well. Jude Law's character "Dickie" is a great fan of Charlie Bird.... "Dickie Bird" a Gilbert and Sullivan reference betokening the empty-headed fool dancing towards his doom to the tootling of some vapid jingle, "Poor little Dickie Bird....tit-willow tit-willow" etc.

Dickie is out of his depth when he encounters the deeply twisted Tom Ripley who has set out to destroy his own identity, annihilate his personality and will not hesitate to eliminate all who would stand in his way. In the end he takes his revenge before meeting his own doom by killing love.

This is a tragic film, beautifully done on all counts and though it seems to drag at times in the first half and has a deux ex machina ending to solve the complicated dilemma of closing the trap around Ripley, it is a first rate suspenser. Minghella does not have the Hitchcock touch but he's brought his own brand of haunting creepiness into this very fine film.

Technical aspects are outstanding, The music by Gabriel Yared is beautiful and the script one of the better ones I've encountered in a long time.

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19 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Read the book instead

Author: dafishhead from United States
13 September 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Simply put... If you enjoyed the book or its sequels, avoid this movie at all costs. The story is basically the same, but Minghella changed the most important details and to its detriment. In the book, Ripley is a con man and sociopath whose jealousy of Dickie Greenleaf's life leads him to murder him and take on his identity. In the movie, Ripley is a poor boy who lusts after Dickie, accidentally causes his death, and happens to take on his identity. To change the motivation for the murder and to change the murder from premeditative to accidental is to completely change the nature of the title character, and in the process sever the movie's most basic and essential connection to the book upon which it is based. If Minghella disliked the book so much, he shouldn't have taken on the project in the first place. At the very least he should have changed the title and character names as was the case with "Simon Birch" which was very loosely adapted from the novel A Prayer For Owen Meany. Visually the film is beautiful. Many of the performances are good to great. Jude Law and Philip Seymour Hoffman for example are perfectly cast. Matt Damon is not. He tries, but ultimately fails. Damon is a decent enough actor with some potential, but he is way out of his depth here. The character is more complex than he is capable of playing. This wouldn't be such a problem if he weren't playing the title character. So if you like the book, avoid this faux adaptation and see "Purple Noon" instead.

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13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Lots to rave about here.

Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
10 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a really terrific thriller. There is a lot going on, and you need to bring your attention span, but the reward will be great if you do. Matt Damon plays Tom Ripley. Ripley is an intentionally ambiguous character who uses his many "talents" to dig himself into deeper and deeper trouble as he attempts to infiltrate high society. Damon really began to distance himself from boyhood chum Ben Affleck with this role originally intended for Tom Cruise.

It all starts out on a rooftop in New York City. Ripley is playing the piano for some type of a cocktail party and he happens to be wearing a borrowed Princeton jacket. A wealthy gentlemen at the party notices this, and quickly recruits Ripley to track his spoiled brat son down over in Italy. His son also attended Princeton, and Ripley claims to have known him there. Ripley accepts this offer since it pays pretty well, allows him to travel, and gives him the chance to get a foot in the door with the upper class. Ripley locates the spoiled son named Dickie who is living with his girlfriend. Jude Law (American accent and all) plays Dicke, and Gwyneth Paltrow is the girlfriend. Ripley quickly befriends the couple and admits why he's there. Rather than try to convince Dickie to return to America with him, he simply joins him in run of debauchery. The good vibes between these characters don't last long, however. Ripley develops a mad obsession about Dickie that can really only lead to the kind of violent confrontation we see later on a tiny motorboat. Ripley then becomes Dickie. He has learned how to forge his signature, his mannerisms, and he is quickly developing a taste for the finer things in life.

Or course there are complications when one assumes another person's identity. Ripley keeps running into people Dickie knew well, and he has to come up with some amazing lies and schemes to keep them believing the real Dickie is still alive. If someone gets too close, Ripley has to either run away or dispose of whomever might find out his secrets. As a viewer, you might often find yourself trying to come up with a good story or lie before Ripley can to see if you're as cunning as he apparently is. The story works itself out intelligently, and by doubling back on some of the tiniest details from earlier scenes, but somehow it all works brilliantly. What kind of man is Tom Ripley? Really, he is whatever he needs to be in order to keep going. Is he intelligent? Hell yes. Is he dangerous? Hell yes. Is he gay? If he needs to be. He has a chance to bed Cate Blanchette, but seems unable to complete the deal. Or maybe he just doesn't have time. It's difficult to say.

The cast is a wonderful ensemble of some of the finest actors working today. Phillip Seymour Hoffman really stands out in a sleazy supporting role. Law is superb. Blanchette is not in enough scenes. Paltrow is good, but Damon puts them all to shame. Anthony Minghella's direction hits all the right notes. Italy looks as beautiful as you could ask it to. It's really hard to find a flaw in this one. 10 of 10 stars.

The Hound.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A good amoral drama

Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
2 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tom Ripley is a bit of a non-entity but also a bit of a chameleon who can make people think he belongs. After the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf mistakenly thinks Tom was a friend of his son Dickie he is given a job… to go to Italy and persuade Dickie to return to New York. He quickly meets Dickie and his girlfriend Marge Sherwood and befriends them. He is honest about why he is there but makes Dickie believe that they share similar interests. Soon he is staying with Dickie and Marge while still being paid by Dickie's father. Eventually Herbert Greenleaf writes to thank Tom for his work but also to let him know it is clear that he has failed in his task and will no longer be paid. At the same time Dickie starts to get tired of Tom's presence. Tom doesn't take this well and strikes Dickie; a struggle ensues and Dickie is killed. Tom manages to hide the death and carries on his life… he also starts playing the part of Dickie; a role he enjoys. Inevitably the deception is hard to maintain; Marge wants to know what happened to Dickie and when a friend of Dickie pays a visit Tom must kill again to protect his secret… a killing the police believe Dickie may have committed.

This was a really enjoyably film; plenty of time is spent introducing the characters and by the time of Dickie's death Tom is the more sympathetic character so it is easy for the viewer to see it as self-defence and hope he gets away with it. Even when he kills again it isn't hard to still hope he gets away with it as this victim was a frightful snob who had always looked down on Tom and people like him… it is only when Marge starts to be emotionally harmed by Tom's actions that sympathy for him starts to wane. The cast does a fine job; Matt Damen is particularly good as Tom Ripley; a character who isn't naturally dynamic but can play the part when needed. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow also impress as Dickie and Marge. The story isn't rushed but nor does it drag and once Dickie has died the tension gradually rises; there is always the possibility that Tom will be exposed, either by the police or somebody who knows Dickie, and each to it looks like he could be exposed there is the feeling that people around him are in danger. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to anybody wanting a good drama set in some beautiful Italian locations.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A Big, Resounding, "WHAT?" (On Earth Were They Thinking?)

Author: star83
28 July 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(SPOILERS)Okay, so this movie has a couple of Oscar nominated actors/actresses in it. IT STILL WAS BAD! Okay, so it was filmed in a convincing atmosphere. IT STILL WAS BAD! Okay, so it was an attempt at creating a throwback of some Hitchcock film. IT STILL WAS A BAD MOVIE--although it was not the worst that I've seen.

First, I guess I'll discuss the good points of this movie--there are a few. I, like everyone else, enjoyed the scenery. This is because I could imagine a killer on the loose in such beautiful surroundings--for this movie, it adds "creepiness" (if that's what you would call it). Also, I, as anyone else I'd imagine, do not mind watching a movie that takes place somewhere I would like to be. It adds to the escapism that we all like to get from movies. The second thing that I enjoyed--most of all, in fact--was Mister Jude Law. I love him. He does well in any role that he portrays. Law was the only character that was amusing, or even interesting. This is sad to say, because the movie is called "The Talented Mr. Ripley"-not "The Talented Dickie" (Jude Law). I wanted to turn it off once Dickie was dead--and I knew that that point would come. I did like Matt Damon in the role, though, because he was so goofy and nerdish, that he was just odd, and easy to laugh at. I wonder if Ripley was meant to be so in the books. I could see why anyone would want to kill those characters--all of them. Cate Blachett was also good, but she has been so in all of her movies that I've seen, especially "Elisabeth" and "The Gift".

Although I like Damon, Blachett, and Law as actors, I did not like their characters. I did not like ANY of them. And the women--all of them--were made to look like some stupid beasts, running after their men of interest. The most obvious thing that a filmmaker must make sure of is that the audience can identify with, at least, one character in the film. I hated all of them! Especially Marge! Paltrow, contrary to what others have said, was perfectly cast! She was just so accepting, and blind, and weak--Paltrow personifies this, to me, in any character that she plays. I do agree though, that her acting, as always, was overrated, and overdone. Ripley should have killed Marge and let Dickie live.

I did not like the main character, either. I may not have been suppposed to, but I did not even sympathize with him. He was just some simpering, little, weirdo-nerd. He wasn't even cunning. He just killed--three times to be exact--in the stupidest and random ways. The fact that he bludgeones them is a sign of his un-calculating and random acts. Ripley was a murderer, only because he killed. He showed no intelligence while doing so. This movie took away all of the fun of watching a murder thriller. As I saw the murders he commited, I was like, "What is this?" it's due to a miracle--or a stupid script--that he wasn't caught!stupid! The premise was just STUPID! The one thing that I did understand was that Ripley is a psychopath!--but he was just so goofy!

In the beginning of the movie, I wondered "Where's the suspense?", I of course knew that he would kill Dickie. The (very mild) suspense came only after wondering when he would start to kill everyone else. He didn't kill anyone else of importance, except for Dickie's stupid, mumbling friend--I saw that coming, also. The whole movie dragged on and on, from one thing (I can't even remember what) to another. The stupidest part (I do remember), that should have been understandable, was when the concierge of the hotel fell for Ripley's matching himself to Dickie's ID. Once again, those people were all dumb! It's a movie about a stupid killer, who only got away with the murders because everyone else around him were far beyond stupid--I can't believe that rich people are that blind. I can't believe that I decided to watch them in this awful movie.

The movie consisted of long hours of nothing! And then, at the end, it was just a big, resounding, "WHAT?" I knew that was going to happen, too, but I just have to ask "WHY?". The answer, of course, is that the script or whatever was making it seem that Ripley (character and movie) is now something that he's (it's) not--interesting.

Yes, it was awful, although it was not the worst. Remember, the scenery and costumes and Jude Law. It should be redone. Ripley should be more cunning and smart, what's her name (Blanchett) should have been able to see through that Ripley, and Marge should have been killed, instead of Dickie, or Dickie could die later on--at the end. I can't help it, this movie stunk! I'll remember never to go see a movie just because the cast consists of Oscar winners.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Good but the original was better...which is usually the case.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
16 March 2013

I had a much harder time watching "The Talented Mr. Ripley" compared to the average person. This is because I have already seen the original version, "Purple Noon" (1960 with Alain Delon). So all along, I knew where the film was going and how it would end. So, there was no suspense for me and I kept comparing the new film with an older film that I adored--making my enjoyment a bit muted for this Matt Damon film.

Normally, I might talk about the plot or how the two versions are different. However, this film is clearly a thriller with many exciting twists--so if I talk about it, I might give away what will happen. Suffice to say, in the Matt Damon version, what ultimately happens seems less planned and much more spontaneous--and certainly less evil. Both are very good films, however, well made and with lovely locale shooting and terrific acting. And, since they put a different spin on the plot, it would make for a great double-feature to watch them both. If asked to choose which one I'd like, I preferred the original film--but both are nice.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Suspenseful Story, Well Acted and Masterfully Directed

Author: Alyssa Black (Aly200) from United States
2 February 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Academy Award winning director Anthony Minghella once again assembles an all star cast in his adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's bestselling thriller about a duplicitous youth who is sent to fetch a wayward young millionaire from Italy. The story turns darker when the titular Mr. Ripley's numerous lies and secrets begin to surface forcing the young man to resort to deadly methods to hide the treacherous truths.

In the pivotal role of Tom Ripley is an ever charismatic Matt Damon, pulling out all the stops to play such a wicked character who we can't help but be attracted to. Tom Ripley is such an enigma that we never really learn where he is actually from or why he does so many horrible things and Damon maintains the air of a faux gentleman. The actor even took time to learn piano which is a key element to throwing Tom into the narrative when Tom is overheard playing at an elite party where Mr. Herbet Greenleaf hears the young man and assumes that Tom knew his son, Dickie (Tom wears a borrowed Yale jacket which was where Dickie attended college before leaving for Italy) which Tom lies about. Damon even lends his singing chops to a song or two for the film's lighter moments. Throughout the film, Damon manages to play a vast range of emotions from confidence to fearful of discovery to murderously methodical all while sporting a seemingly innocent charisma masking a veil of a youth scared of being discovered for his falsehoods.

The film boasts a talented supporting cast in the likes of Jude Law (Oscar nominated for his effort) as Dickie Greenleaf, the unfortunate target of Ripley's dark ambitions, Gwyenth Paltrow (far less irritating than usual) as Dickie's girlfriend, Marge Sherwood who becomes suspicious of Tom's motives, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Dickie's friend, Freddie Miles who gets too close to the truth and pays a steep price, Jack Davenport (most famous for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy) in an expanded role as Peter Smith-Kingsley, friend to Ripley after Ripley flees his dark actions but is the final casualty by the end of the film and Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue, a fellow traveler who is also a victim of Ripley's lies but never finds out who Tom really is. Even minor players like the late James Rebhorn as Herbet Greenleaf and Philip Baker-Hall manage to make an impression.

Director Minghella deftly adapts the story with a keen eye as he ramps the tension as Tom Ripley's lies begin to spiral out of control and he must resort to drastic measures to cover his tracks. As Tom's obsession with Dickie grows, we feel nervous and afraid for Dickie as we wonder what Tom will to get what he wants. Even when Tom commits horrible deeds, we fear for the villainous young man wondering if he will get caught. The film also exudes exquisite cinematography of its Italian landscapes that makes the setting a character of its own as the story's characters travel across the country from Venice to Rome and in-between on the canals and seas.

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