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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
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).
*** 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
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some of the reviews written here are so poetic and eloquently defining,
there is not much left to write - except to repudiate those snide
comments some people posted. They were not able to grasp the
many-layered complexities of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" - I've watched
it at least six times and still feel uncertain of my opinions, that
I've misunderstood some of it. Although it was released in 1999, it is
definitely like one of the great movies that were made in the '60s-'70s
era. Nothing was left-out to make it into the gripping, totally
convincing film it is. The cinematography was stunning, as was the
lighting. Each character was costumed as they should have been for
every scene. I loved the way each scene melted into the next, making a
complete whole. Anthony Mingella knew exactly what he wanted and got it
with the cooperation of every actor/actress, right down to the extras
and bit-players. Every character was completely developed. Frankly, I
can't imagine anyone else playing the roles as they were presented, and
most of them I was not familiar with. I saw this film before "Good Will
Hunting" (liked it, too), and see the brilliance of Matt Damon's
multi-faceted acting. I also enjoyed both of "the Bourne" movies,
hoping he isn't stuck in that kind of role forever. I sincerely hope
there are many writers busy scripting stories for him, although I think
"Ocean's Eleven" was a waste for him.
I'm sure Minghella realized he almost ruined this sumptuous film by considering Tom Cruise as Ripley - Yuck !! Gwenyth Paltrow was perfect for her role (see "Great Expectations"), too, her facial expressions and tone of voice right on pitch for every emotion. Cate Blanchett is another jewel in this crown, proving there IS great talent there - her timing was sublime with just the right touch of wanting to believe Ripley's saga, but just enough disbelief to make it convincing. One is certain, had the film continued, she would have seen the entire misery. Phillip S. Hoffman was truly a revelation; my first opinion that he was a homophobe - making several snide remarks to Ripley - but, the scene at the piano when he is looking for "Rickie", with his wrist so risquely bent, gives an entirely different characteristic to his role. (See "Red Dragon"). I'm not familiar with Jack Davenport, but what a revealing, under-played gay-man he delivered; he may have been the only one to understand Ripley's torment, much to his undoing. Alessandro Fabrizi as the detective who confronts Ripley in Venice was just as intense as he should have been (see "Hannibal"). What more to say about the skill from all of the other actors/actresses? - applause, please.
As for Jude Law, he should have been that physically beautiful in "Midngiht in the Garden of Good and Evil", in which he played an openly-sinister gay hustler. His facial expression to the perception of Ripley's infatuation for him during the bathtub "chess-game" was transparent. I agree he should have been nominated for best supporting-actor....actually everyone in the film should have won one. This movie is flawless - those people who panned it because of the gay theme don't know too much about anyone other than themselves. It is tragic they don't realize there are so many tortured people like Ripley - perhaps minus the violence - because they have no perception of the human psyche.
No one mentioned Ripley's agony of leaving his beautiful piano behind - pianos were vital to three scenes, opening the movie with that wonderful theme. Some reviewers caught the many personalities Ripley suffered through-out his entire life, and I agree his New York persona should have been expanded - another ten minutes added to the film would matter not, entrancing as it is.
The ending of the movie leaves me completely drained, because it is obvious Ripley would have to continue his tragic behavior.....he didn't have to worry about money anymore, although he couldn't live "Rickie's" life, although IT too was deeply-flawed psychosomatic. Matt Damon's portrayal was magnificent; I can't think of one other actor through the decades I've been watching movies who could bring more to this role.....not one.
AS a performer, I can also easily adjust to radical changes in my life, very similar to Ripley - yet, I can hardly kill a fly. My age has shown me that I am acting from one scene to the next, with no damage to psyche nor hurting another being. There are millions just like us - they just don't realize it. It's not bad - each day is different, adding its own magic to a very good life. People who really study this movie will recognize a little of themselves in it -
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" should be at the top of the list for IMDb's best movies - I'm waiting for another.....
'The Talented Mr. Ripley', an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith 1955
novel of the same name, directed by Anthony Minghella, is a good film.
The Oscar-Winning Late Filmmaker handles this cruel story with manners,
however his writing towards the finale is a complete give-away.
'The Talented Mr. Ripley' is a twisted and disturbing story, of Tom Ripley, a young man struggling to make a living in 1950s New York City. He is maybe, the most believable liar, who goes full throttle after things get weird for him. He kills people. He lives on others names. In short, amongst the biggest villains human-beings have seen on Screen ever.
The film has a rock-solid first-hour, and keeps it's momentum high, but the final 25-30 minutes are not convincing. Anthony Minghella's adapted screenplay is mostly captivating, how one truly wishes if it had a more convincing culmination. As a director, Anthony Minghella wonderfully captures Mr. Ripley's journey. He makes sure that in each frame his character is felt and talked about. John Seale's Cinematography is striking. Walter Murch's Editing is good.
Performance-Wise: Matt Damon is incredible as Mr. Ripley. This performance ranks amongst his finest efforts. Gwyneth Paltrow is excellent. Jude Law is super-efficient, while Philip Seymour Hoffman doesn't impress much. Cate Blanchett leaves a mark. Jack Davenport is passable. Philip Baker Hall is terrific in a tiny role.
On the whole, A Good Film, that offers thrills and makes a memorable character.
Having been a fan of the Ripley books for some years, I was hopeful that
last someone had made at least a watchable adaptation of the most
sociopath in modern literature. So much for hope...
There was no point to the silly sub-plots, additional characters and various 'stuff' the film makers added to Highsmith's exceptionally elegant and sparse story. Perhaps someone felt they had to 'improve' on Highsmith (yikes!) in order to justify their paycheck. The effect is disastrous, making an interminable film longer than it needs to be. Worse, now no one can have a whack at it again for 20 years or so!
Matt Damon seems like he was willing to perform, but slid into being boring instead of being understated. The characterization of Dickie as a playboy is unfortunate, but at least Jude Law shows signs of life. Miss Paltrow's Marge is far too knowing, rather than puppet-like. We are deprived of the uncomfortable sensation we feel in the book when she succumbs to Ripley's story. Cate Blanchett does as best she can, with a character that never existed in print and isn't even needed for the film.
Ripley is far more subtle than the over-baked re-telling given it by Minghella and Co. For example, why start him off living in abject poverty? Highsmith smartly had him already toying with an underground career when Mr. Greenleaf pursues him, knowing that he went to school with Dickie. The Highsmith setup makes for a much more interesting 'acquaintance becomes a devil and takes over your life' dynamic. Further bad choices are made concerning the coup de grace and ensuing action. The demise of Dickie, THE CENTRAL MOMENT OF THE STORY, is awkwardly contrived, seeming to come from nowhere and feeling out of place rather than organic and plausible. Perhaps this is the consequence of the bad plot leads going before, and poor filmmaking choices that leave the film's texture uneven.
Read the book instead.
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
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.
What a shame. The story had a lot of of promise but that dwindled quickly. In the beginning we're presented Mr. Ripley, who in every aspects wishes to be something he's not. He hopes to conform himself to the lifestyle of Dickie Greenleaf, and in doing so certain grows too attached to something he can never attain. The movie plods on through many gruesome instances and has the audience waiting for the end. I assumed often that the end was near, but no, I was not that fortunate. I had to sit through more of this dull movie. If I was one to walk out of a movie I would have left after about an hour. Instead I stayed. My recommendation: go for the first hour or so, you'll catch the good parts of the movie, then run!
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