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One of the best films of 99, The Talented Mr. Ripley is about as smart and terrifying as a thriller can be. Matt Damon leads an all star cast, with fine performances by everyone, but especially Jude Law, and of course Damon. Wickedly evil, and unforgettable. Hitchcock would have loved this movie.
This is one of the best thrillers ever made! The cinematography alone is
breathtaking. The performances are brilliant. Matt Damon delivers his
greatest performance; one that should languish any potential of him becoming
just another Hollywood pretty boy. He had to lose weight, making him
virtually anhorexic, for the role so obviously he was up to the challenge.
And Damon brings such a subtle creepiness to the character of Tom Ripley.
Jude Law is also terrific, in a relatively small role. His American accent
is thoroughly convincing. Also worth mentioning is Cate Blanchett in
another relatively small role. She also had to fake an American accent,
which she did well this time--she screwed up in "Pushing Tin."
The score is memorable and perfectly contributes to the suspense. The music, the cinematography and the acting all combine to create some truly bone-chilling scenes. As Roger Ebert said, this is the kind of film that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.
Some may consider the film slow and dragging. Even though the movie's long, I didn't think it was overlong. I wasn't bored for one minute. The characters are so engaging that I didn't even feel tempted to look at my watch. Audiences have a phobia of character development nowadays. That's why so many movies are cut to an hour and thirty to an hour and forty minutes. It's the development of the characters that help develop the suspense. Even though we never know for sure what Ripley's motivations are for killing people, we get a sense of the jealousy, insecurity and loneliness he feels. Not saying that he's justified for his actions, but Minghella allows us to really enter his mind without the use of narration.
The film gets more and more intriguing as it gets along. This is a REAL edge-of-your-seat thriller. The ending doesn't contain any plot twists or any genuine surprises, but I wasn't hoping for one. Minghella pretty much leaves things open-ended. I know there have been a couple other movies made (I haven't seen them yet) with the character of Tom Ripley, inspired by Patricia Highsmith's novels. Maybe soon there will be another.
My score: 9 (out of 10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving
Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate
Talented Mr. Ripley, is the alternative title for this movie, and the way
the movie begins and ends with the same view of its principal character,
Ripley, invites empathy, rather than revulsion. I watched this movie
seen a couple of reviews of it, but I had no idea really what I was in
It is the finest thriller I've seen in a long while, superbly filmed,
wonderfully acted, perfectly staged. But it is also deeply disturbing.
shook me up so much that I felt compelled to go out and speak to someone I
knew had also watched the film. Then a few days later I watched it again.
It bears more than one viewing: if you can cope!
Tom Ripley is portrayed as a highly-talented sociopath, but also gay (something which is consistently ignored in reviews of this film). His growing fixation with (or perhaps Ripley would see it as devotion) the flighty but irresistible Dickie Greenleaf (a superb performance from the always excellent Jude Law), makes occasionally for uncomfortable viewing, and (FIRST SPOILER) the horror of the row-boat scene is all the more gripping and emotionally draining because of it. Enmeshed in a web of lies of his own creation, (SECOND SPOILER) Tom kills off the two men whom he seems most attached emotionally attached to.
One of the things I liked about this film, is that (or maybe I missed it) we are not given the slightest indication of how the talented Tom Ripley became this monstrous scheming sociopath. The mystery is preserved by the superb performance of Matt Damon, which I don't believe has received the recognition it deserved. I would give this movie 9 stars and if anyone tells you that they didn't like this film, don't take anymore notice of them.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is a splendid showcase of young actors in a richly dark story of obsession, murder and talent. Director Anthony Mingela dives deep into the disturbed phsyche of Tom Ripley and fleshes out a dreamy 1960's Italian landscape in this twisting tale. Matt Damon plays Ripley, who seemingly starts off as an innocent outsider, with an everyday lower class life in the big city. By chance, he meets a wealthy American industrialist who mistakes him for a wealthy prep school graduate and friend of his elusive playboy son Dickie. Ripley is sent on a mission to bring Dickie back from his lazy, party-all-the-time subsidized lifestyle in Italy. Jude Law is brilliant as Dickie - a spoiled ray of sunshine who carelessly spends his father's money on boats, seaside vista homes and expensive Italian clothes. His charm and charisma quickely attract the friendship of men - including Ripley, and the desire of women. His cheerful and ignorant girlfriend Marge is wonderfully played by Gweneth Paltrow. Ripley begins to obsess over Dickie and his apparently perfect life. By its title's suggestion, Mr. Tom Ripley is very talented, and begins to use his forgery and impersonating skills to slowly become Dickie Greenleaf. The film becomes noticably darker in its second half when Ripley assumes Dickie's identity. Murder and deceit spiral out of control until a shocking and unfinished ending will leave you feeling empty and wanting more. This is a great film with a not-so-hollywood conclusion. Final rating 8.5/10
Anthony Minghella's film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel is
amazing. In the novel, you get a much more specific sense of who Ripley
because as Highsmith said, she felt as though Ripley stole the typewriter
and wrote the story. The novel is interesting if you want more specifics
about Ripley's character. But I personally enjoy the way Minghella's
screenplay seeks to make Ripley seem more likeable and normal at the
beginning of the film. This is in direct contrast to the novel, in which
is immediately presented as being a scheming, untrustworthy person. The
film allows the audience, at least at the beginning, to sympathize with
Ripley and put themselves in his shoes.
I also think that the vague and rather empty quality of Matt Damon's Ripley
is more appropriate since Ripley is supposed to be someone who is
uninteresting and never really himself.
More impressive even is the way Minghella rescues all of the other roles from the completely flat and colorless descriptions of them in the novel. Dickie and particularly Marge and Freddy Miles are virtually expendable in the novel. Only Dickie is given halfway decent treatment because of the way the novel shows Ripley emulating every aspect of Dickie's mannerisms. But the novel, unlike the film, doesn't provide the audience with a reason to feel like Ripley in their admiration of Dickie. The film makes Dickie clearly the center of attention and the charasmatic character that the audience, as well as Ripley, would admire and even wish they could be like. Jude Law's Dickie is attractive, exciting, and more appealing than Ripley in every way. The nuances added to his character not only in the screenplay but by Law's superb acting add an incredible dimension to the film.
Likewise with the other supporting actors and their respective characters. Gwyneth Paltrow's Marge is more intelligent and far more sympathetic than the character in the novel. And Philip Seymour Hoffman bestows not only the arrogant elitism of Freddy Miles, but the sense that he innately knows that there's something disturbing about Ripley.
Another very important and very big change was the addition of Cate Blanchett's Meredith Logue. This character doesn't exist in the novel, and Cate's performance in this role is a scene stealer amongst many scene stealers. The role adds depth and irony to the story, and Cate Blanchett invests such an amazing life to this character with only a few pivotal scenes.
As for the film's much-complained-about length, remember that patience is a virtue. Not every film is so simple that an hour and a half is sufficient to tell a story. Most of my favorite films are as long as Ripley or longer. It is well worth taking the two hours and twenty minutes to watch this film
Everything about this movie struck me as being "right on the mark", most especially Matt Damon as a man who has at least lost his way. To tell more is to tell too much, but I find much to like in this twisted tale set against the beauty of Italy. Jude Law is also excellent as the rich young wastrel who's succumbed to the easy life of a man with a trust fund to spend and bright young friends to spend it with in late 30's Italy.
It's interesting to compare director and screenwriter Anthony
Minghella's interpretation with the source material, mystery novelist
Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel of the same name. That novel was an
intense but somewhat euphemistic psycho/sexual study of a sociopath of
ambiguous sexuality done as a third-person narrative from a limited
point of view (Ripley's). As such we were forced to identify with
Highsmith's antihero, all the better to set us up for her ironic and
daring 'resolution.' Minghella has changed the ending, but without
changing its spirit. He has Ripley committing an additional murder
while throwing in a character not in the novel, Cate Blanchett's
Meredith Logue. Miss Logue serves two purposes, one, she helps unravel
the plot and two, she helps to objectify Tom Ripley's ambivalent sexual
The simplistic question, is Ripley gay? is not answered in the Highsmith novel. But Minghella, by adding the bathtub scene with Dickie and the scene aboard ship with the clearly gay Peter Smith-Kingsley, decides that Ripley is indeed gay. Nonetheless the psychological heart of the story, that of a man who loathes himself so much that he can only love himself by assuming the identity of another man whom he admires, is left intact. Minghella's script and direction remain true to the spirit and broad form of the novel, while improving on the dramatic quality of the story. (I don't think most movie audiences would have the patience for Highsmith's more leisurely exposition.)
Some other changes by Minghella include making Dickie's passion jazz music instead of painting, and emphasizing the rich boy/poor boy dichotomy (somewhat reminiscent of the chasm in The Great Gatsby) by making Dickie a Princeton grad and Tom a piano-playing kid who had a menial job at the university. In the book Dickie and Tom actually knew one another before Europe, while Minghella has Tom pretend that Dickie and he had previously met. Also in the book Marge Sherwood's character is almost stupid. In the movie she is intelligent and insightful. Dickie loves her and they are to be married. In the book she is just a girlfriend.
The success of this movie in large part is due to Minghella's ability to translate the novel to the screen, but also because of a very superior cast.
Matt Damon as the murderous Mr. Ripley is creepy and vulnerable and entirely believable. Jude Law as the rich and spoiled, but likable Dickie Greenleaf, is outstanding. He is an actor of charisma and subtlety. Gwyneth Paltrow does a good job in a somewhat limited role as Marge Sherwood. Cate Blanchett, whom you may recall from her outstanding work in Elizabeth (1998) is particularly good as the straight-laced and somewhat inhibited Meredith Logue who has designs on Tom Ripley's morally corrupted heart (although she thinks he's Dickie Greenleaf). She, more than anyone conveys the look and feel of the fifties. And Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whom I recall from his small part as Lester Bangs, the cynical rock critic in Almost Famous (2000), is superb as Dickie's somewhat boorish friend, Freddie Miles.
In some ways this is better than the book. (And in some ways it isn't, of course.) Minghella, who brought Michael Ondaatje's difficult novel, The English Patient, to the screen, proves once again that he knows the difference between a novel and a screenplay and how to translate the one into the other without losing the essence of the original. Incidentally, the spiffy line spoken by James Rebhorn as Dickie's father, Herbert Greenleaf, 'People say you can't choose your parents, but you know you can't choose your children either,' is not in the book (nor in Bartlett's Quotations) and so I presume was penned by Minghella.
Another very good movie version of the Highsmith novel is the Hitchcock-like Plein Soleil ('Purple Moon') released in 1960 from French director Rene Clement.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
Nowadays it is very hard to find movies made in Hollywood which are
character-based and plot-based, and not explosion-based. This film is one
of those rare examples (along with An American Beauty and The Ice Storm).
Consequently it is highly praised and bedecked with honours.
However, I think that the reason this film was highly praised is because nobody can remember when Hollywood actually made good films, and this is clearly the best that they can do these days.
First of all, the casting. Tom Ripley was clearly Jude Law's part, the part he was meant to play. Matt Damon has absolutely no talent for demonstrating a chameleon-like personality - it basically boiled down to "with glasses" or "without glasses". Ripley appears to get over the obstacles he's confronted with, with nothing more than dumb luck - so where's the "talent"? There just wasn't anything attractive about him as a character in order to make you root for him as the anti-hero, so no doubt people who were unaware that Ripley is a character in a series of books were surprised and disappointed that he seemingly got away with it in the end.
Secondly, it seems that nobody knows how to do symbolism anymore. Much as I admire Anthony Minghella as a writer and a director, it seems he feels that the themes of impersonation had to be rammed down our throats at every opportunity in the early part of the film. Time was when symbolism was so subtle you didn't even register it consciously - this was not the case here. If you can clearly see the symbols when they appear, then they have not done their job properly.
Thirdly, the last act was paced all wrong - I kept wondering why the film hadn't ended yet, and when the final twist came the resolution was far too obvious. In fact the entire film was too long and slowly-paced given its somewhat improbable premise. With a plot like this you shouldn't give the audience too much time to think. That was more or less the secret to Hitchcock's entire career.
This is a film which seems to be quite good on first watching, but lessens upon reflection. But at least somebody likes to give a large budget to a film in which there will be no car-chases or gory monsters.
I don't usually like Gwenyth Paltrow in any film, but I was pleasantly surprised with her performance in this one. She easily comes out as the best actor in this film, though there are stellar performances from both Jude Law and Matt Damon. The characterisation is perfect, it's not really necessary that you like the characters. Jude Law's character was the most well developed of them all. And the atmosphere created by the director is almost perfect - especially both boat scenes and the chess scene. Excellent! I did however feel that the movie was a bit long and dragged a bit in the end. Great music, sets, cinematography, costumes and production design!
This has to be one of the creepiest films I have ever seen.The brilliant
thing about Tom Ripley is that he appears so normal-he is
lonely,quiet,intelligent, but yet he is capable of such violence.And that
what makes this movie terrific-Minghella provides no justification for
actions-he is not a stereotypical psychotic.Blanchett was terrific and so
lovely.Jude Law was great.
Great film,deserved some Oscars and Matt Damon's version of "My Funny Valentine"has to be the best version of the song.I Loved the English Patient and I certainly love Ripley and i think Minghella is a stunning filmmaker.
How something as ordinary as American Beauty (which i thought was shallow and pretentious) can win anything shocks me.the only thing good about Beauty was Spacey and the excellent music score of Thomas Newman who got ignored again...
Of course ripley requires the viewer to think ,so be warned!!!!!
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