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*** 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.
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.
*** 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 ***
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 ***
(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.
*** 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.....
First, well-done cinematography, set work and costuming. There is a rich sense of time and place in the movie. Second, the fatal flaw of the movie: with all the weaving of characters and plot, when Tom has finished with (or, should I say, continues with) his shenanigans, the viewer is left with the deadly question: so what? Who cares about any of these people, except maybe Marge? And therein lies the missed opportunity. This film should have been written from Marge's point of view, not Tom's. Have her see things clearly, but at the end be smothered by a male-dominated society that believes she's crazy (a la Angelina Jolie's character in "The Changeling"). This movie disappoints.
This film has all the attributes of a "good" Hollywood movie: nice scenery,
many slow scenes, better than poor acting etc. etc. Oh yeah, and the
homosexuality theme, of course. After watching it for 30 minutes I realized
I knew the story. Yes, it was Purple Noon, an old (1960) movie that I
watched and greatly enjoyed a few years back. Halfway through the movie
(TMR) I started to fast forward. The movie is trying to be sophisticated but
ends up being dead boring.
I haven't read the original novel so I don't know which of the two movies is closer to the original. It doesn't matter, anyway. The final scene of Purple Noon (as well as the entire film) was brilliant, the one in TMR was pathetic.
Like Anthony Minghella's previous film ("The English Patient") the visual
styling of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is rich and textured. Mingehella
how to light a scene and where to put the camera. Likewise, the
performances from the entire cast are fine, including the amoral,
sociopathic, and rather creepy Mr. Ripley (Matt Damon). The performance
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Freddy) is confident, range-stretching for him,
and--I think--the finest in the film. (As a slightly less relevant aside,
must say that I found the Italian scenery magnificent to watch, especially
the streets of Rome, the Spanish Steps, and the Bernini
However, like "The English Patient", the plot is so dense (and, I would argue, muddled) that characters and their motivations become unclear as one tries to keep log of details. (e.g. Where did Peter come from, anyway? He just shows up in the middle of the film, with insufficient introduction, rather intimately palling around with Marge at the opera.) Now some of this I'm sure is intentional in order to enhance the meting out of this complex tale of mystery; however, I think that Minghella's delivery of drama often mistakes confusion and unclarity for suspense.
I suppose that I should not complain too loudly since "Ripley" with its gorged plot is definitely preferable to the more common (and annoying) problem--namely, too little plot. If you can forget about plausibility I think you will find, all in all, that the ride is intriguing and generally compelling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I never seem to have gotten any attachment to this story at all.
All of the characters seemed so contrived, so artificial, that I could never suspend my disbelief for a moment. It's amazing that someone as talented as Mr. Ripley couldn't manage to make a place for himself in the world. He had to be a parasite. Why? And then there's Dickie and his girlfriend. Two remarkably beautiful people living in absolute paradise, yet with no visible means of support. But that doesn't stop Dickie form buying a beautiful sailboat, living in a stunning villa on the coast of Italy, and living it up to the fullest every minute. Yeah, like so many other folks I know.
But if Dickie's dad was so desperate to have him come back home, why didn't he just cut off his money? Wouldn't that have been a lot easier than sending some stranger out to collect him? And so when the really peculiar friendship between Tom and Dickie wears thin, the only recourse is to murder Dickie? Odd. And only one of numerous non-sequitors in the show.
I found myself not caring about any of the characters or what they were planning or doing. I couldn't relate to any of them on any level, nor could I believe they were anything but really obnoxious caricatures.
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