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The Talented Mr. Ripley
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Talented Mr. Ripley More at IMDbPro »

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I left with chills down my spine.

9/10
Author: Andrea-37
6 July 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS

I was 13 years old when I saw this movie. I really was not interested in seeing this movie, and I thought I would leave the theater unsatisfied. The movie was probably too adult for me; nonetheless I was still glued to my seat. Besides the beautiful scenery of Italy and the attractive cast, I believe this to be a truly compelling movie. When Tom Ripley meets the elusive Dickey Greenleaf, he is treated by Dickey as a best friend. Tom feels a strong attraction towards Dickey. When Dickey catches on to Tom's advances, he begins to ignore Tom. Out of anger and jealousy, Tom murders Dickey. The rest of the movie is about how he cunningly covers his tracks. I agree that the ending was somewhat peculiar and abrupt. I still left the theater with chills down my spine.

I give it a 9 out of 10 stars.

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Unexpected Turn-Abouts'

8/10
Author: Robby-2 (thesrkids@ap.net) from thesrkids@ap.net
5 July 2000

Expected a movie on "evil" Sociopathic manipulation yet instead found one centering on an "Incomplete Personality" prepared, in some conditions, dangerous or otherwise, to "Complete" himself.

Many plot twists (some hard to buy) but keeps you intrigued as to why the main character (Ripley...get it..."Believe it or Not?") doesn't "bail" at any given moment. Check it out!

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Great cast + Great director/writer = Great movie!

9/10
Author: Sal Ruggiero (sal_ruggiero@hotmail.com) from New York
4 July 2000

THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY, I feel, has been the most anticipated film of 1999. Academy Award winning director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) follows up with this flick. With the luscious art direction of the 1950's Italy and great acting, THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY deserves its praise.

Tom Ripley, played by Good Will Hunting's Matt Damon, goes through his life thinking that it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody. With that in mind, he forges going to the same college as Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law.) Fooled by his appearance, Dickie's parents send Tom to Italy to find their son and bring him home. Because it is expense-free, Tom goes.

He learns to enjoy jazz music as Dickie brings him into his rich life. Tom looks at Dickie to see that he is popular, he is rich, and he has a beautiful girlfriend - Gwyneth Paltrow. Dickie makes Tom feel like he's the only one who matters in the world. When Dickie is reunited to his old friend, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Dickie disregards Tom. Tom becomes so angry that things happen.

This picture is so much better than The English Patient. If you are a fan of any of the actors, director, or Italy, it is a must see!

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Mr. Ripley has failed.

Author: Raphael-15 from USofA
3 July 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**WARNING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS** (although, you can't really spoil a spoiled movie, now can you?)

Boy, has he ever. When I popped this film into my VCR I was expecting an evening on the edge of my seat. Ha, not hardly. The beginning was OK (kinda). Tom Ripley sits in for a friend at a piano performance, ending with a bang - lying to the parents of Dickie Greenleaf, a playboy who ran off to Italy. He said that he knew "good ol' Dickie," which, of course, he didn't. So Dickie's Dad talks him into going to Italy in order to talk Dickie into coming home. Mr. Ripley accepts, begins to study things that Dickie likes, such as jazz, in order to befriend him more easily, and so on and so on and so on. Pretty much south from there, I was snuggled up in my chair yawning to death when WHOA! RED ALERT! HOLY FISH STICKS! WHAT THE HECK! I vaguely recalled reading that this movie had a seen of nudity, but HOLY CROW! Dickie in a bath playing chess with, what's this, TOM who is out of the bath! Then Mr. Tom Ripley says WHAT? Oh please, pass the trash can, I think I'm gonna barf. By then I was strapping myself to my seat to keep myself from killing my TV set. You ARE catching on here, right? Just in case you're not I'll give it to you loud and clear, spoiler or no spoiler: Each and every man in the film, from Peter, to Frederick, to Dickie, to Tom Ripley, was pictured as both queer and straight, AND SHOWN AS ACTING PERFECTLY NATURAL!!! Catching on. IT'S NOT NATURAL, OK! I mean good grief. Do not watch it. Take it back to the movie store. Turn it off. Eject it. Fast forward to the end, or have someone tell you how it ended. (although it did end quite abruptly, I must say, leaving me feeling empty.) It really is tough to explain, just, bottom line, don't watch it. I'm dead serious. You'll hate it.

(whew, I feel MUCH better now)

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A missed opportunity, a profound disappointment. Why not trust the material?

Author: Phlicker* from Phlorida
2 July 2000

In "The Talented Mr. Ripley," screenwriter/director Anthony Minghella tries to solve the narrative challenges posed by Patricia Highsmith's brilliant novel of the same title. Chief among these challenges is the fact that the book tells the story from Ripley's point of view. Thus, all of the information we either receive or don't receive about Tom Ripley's motivations, rationalizations (or, chillingly, the lack of them) and strategies come to us from the mind of Tom Ripley. Clearly, without a voiceover narration (which Minghella briefly employs and then abandons) this won't do for a movie.

So Minghella invents two extraneous relationships for Tom. This choice is disastrous on two accounts. First, Ripley's psychopathic isolation, part of what makes him so frightening in the book, is diluted. Second, the book forces readers to view the action as helpless and horrified passive participants, experiencing the "shared guilt" Hitchcock so beautifully foisted upon the audience in his adaptation of Highsmith's "Strangers on a Train." The movie turns us into objective eyewitnesses. Since we can't share the crimes, the crimes are just boring.

In the book, we are thrilled by Ripley's calculations, his fears, his amoral energies. In the movie, it is Jude Law's Dickie Greenleaf who helps himself to life with both hands and energizes us. When his character goes, the movie goes under.

Another of Minghella's choices is far more suspect -- his choice to make Ripley identifiably gay is clearly an effort to "devialize" Ripley's criminal nature. In the book, Ripley's asexual inscrutability makes him all the more chilling. Making him gay in the movie allows mainstream audiences to extrapolate his criminality from his sexuality. "Oh, of COURSE," we are allowed to say. "That makes sense." This turns the movie into a feature-length gaybash. In the book, Marge accuses both Tom and Dickie of being gay, an accusation that Tom later employs to his advantage. But Minghella's gay Ripley is a terrible betrayal of the source material, especially since Highsmith herself was gay. She understood the sexual undercurrents of the story well enough to leave them chillingly unspoken. One of the greatest successes of Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" is how he teases these elements into the narrative while letting them stay unspoken. Would Robert Walker's effete sang-froid have been as fascinating if we had been told outright that he was gay? I think not.

If Minghella had trusted the material, he would have had a deeply troubling chiller (which is what "Strangers on a Train" and Highsmith's original "Ripley" were). Instead, all he has is a "look at the queer bogey-man" freak show. Worse, by making his gay Ripley capable of real emotional attachment and of suffering pain from such attachment, he reduces a truly terrifying psychopath to a plain old murderer.

The only frightening thing about this handsomely made, very well-acted movie is how pedestrian it is. What a missed opportunity.

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fascinatingly complex thriller

Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
30 June 2000

Perhaps because it is based on a Patricia Highsmith novel (another of her works served as the foundation for the 1951 classic `Strangers on a Train'), `The Talented Mr. Ripley' often plays like an updated Alfred Hitchcock film, complex, elegant and redolent of cool detachment. Beautifully written and directed by Anthony Minghella and starring an ensemble cast of first-rate young actors (Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett and Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the film brings us back to a time when mystery films derived their power not merely from the creation of an ingeniously contrived story but, more importantly, from an intense focus on the many-layered ambiguities and ambivalent morality of its main characters.

Matt Damon, in a bravura, multi-faceted performance stars as Tom Ripley, an ambitious `nobody' who, through a quirky trick of fate, finds himself in Italy befriending the ne'er-do-well son of a wealthy American shipbuilder and his devoted girlfriend. Slowly, Tom insinuates himself into their lives, leading to tragic results for many if not all of the principal players. No more need be said about the plot since much of the dynamic energy of such a film is fueled by the element of surprise – and, like the artists they are, the filmmakers never let us know where exactly their tale is headed. However, the real fascination of the film lies not in its narrative twists and turns but in the delicate but complex interplay it sets up among its many intricate and enigmatic characters. For Minghella never lets us feel we can read the people we are involved with too well. Is Tom, for example, a coldly calculating, totally amoral psychopath with no redeeming humanitarian features – or is he a lost and lonely soul, struggling with his repressed homosexuality and his unspoken love for a man in an era (the 1950's) in which such things were generally unheard of and assuredly not accepted? Or is he, more fascinatingly, simply a little of both? After all, Tom's murder spree begins not as a result of a premeditated action but of a passion borne of unrequited desire. Dickie, the scion's son, remains, likewise, a tightly wrapped enigma, a notorious womanizer on the surface, but is he too, as Tom irately challenges him, hiding his true nature from the world? Minghella never provides us clear answers to these questions and therein lies `Ripley's success as a true intellectual thriller. Appropriately, Damon and Law never hit a false or obvious note in their portrayals of these two complex, mind-twisting young companions, drawn together by their love of duplicity and, perhaps, love of each other.

The beautifully photographed images of Italian cities and their watery environs – as well as a soundtrack filled with jazz, operatic and classical music - lend an air of class and elegance to the film. Thus, in its incongruity, the first act of violence, when it flares up unexpectedly, startles us with its realism and ferocity. Yet, it is also a moment filled with intense sadness for it arises out of a complexity of emotions and feelings with which we can all, strangely, identify. Indeed it is this sense of emotional imbalance created by the subtleties and complexities of the characters in the film that lifts `The Talented Mr. Ripley' to the level of a top notch cerebral thriller.

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Less than the sum of the parts

6/10
Author: FlickJunkie-2 from Atlanta, GA
29 June 2000

If you add up all the various aspects of this film, it should have been terrific. It had a hot and talented young cast, all of whom gave good to great performances. It had wonderful locations, costumes, props and music. It had an intriguing plot. And yet by the end all I felt was ennui.

This was a case of a director who couldn't induce the full potential out of his various resources. Anthony Minghella does a fine job on the cinematography and choice of beautiful locations in Italy, but his crafting of the story left it predictable and flaccid. This was supposed to be both a character study and a thriller. It was inadequate on both counts.

In a well made character study the viewer will come to understand the motivations of the characters. This film never delivers in this regard. The only character that was well developed was Dickie (Jude Law). Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a mystery, just a hanger on. Meredith (Cate Blanchett) was nothing more than a plot device. But the biggest reason it came up short was because the motivation of Ripley (Matt Damon) was left too ambiguous. Was Ripley a cunning con man orchestrating a grand caper, an inept interloper who bungled his way through a propitious opportunity, a victim of circumstances, an unrequited gay lover who committed a crime of passion and then needed to cover his trail? Take your pick. Minghella doesn't tell the story in a way that makes this clear.

As a thriller, it lacked surprise. Every murder was telegraphed. The private investigator gives Ripley a pass at the end, obviating the need for Ripley to provide some clever explanation for all the inconsistencies. There was not a single twist in the entire film. It had all the intrigue of playing open handed bridge.

For all the raves I've read about Matt Damon's performance, I found it rather uneven. Sometimes he came across as a clever mastermind and at others a wounded puppy. It seemed like he wasn't really sure how to play the character. Again, I put the responsibility for this on Minghella. I'd call it a generally good performance of a difficult character, but not even close to his dynamism in ‘Good Will Hunting'.

This was a shining moment for Jude Law who gave a career performance as Dickie. He basically stole the show out from under Damon's nose. He endowed his character with exuberance, and a cavalier live-for-today attitude that made him charismatic despite his callousness and irresponsibility. I enjoyed his performance in the unheralded ‘Music From Another Room' but this one was even better. If he keeps improving like this, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

I rated this film a 6/10 on the strength of Law's performance and the cinematography. The telling of the story fell flat and robbed this film of its real potential.

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A spiritless story beautifully photographed.

7/10
Author: Don Mac Brown (donmac72@juno.com) from West Hills, California
29 June 2000

Jude Law perfectly evokes all that is wrong with inherited wealth. The picture should have ended when Ripley beats the desiccated brains out of the haughty playboy. If the talented Ripley character would have drowned with Law's playboy, there would have been a sense of moral closure. It is disturbing when a director of Minghelli's caliber chooses to waste his considerable talent on such a depressing project.

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Adequate but misguided

Author: flakfizer (flakfizer@altavista.com) from New York
29 June 2000

After being revered as a screenwriting pioneer for his systematic translation of Michael Ondaatje's professedly untranslatable novel of The English Patient, Anthony Minghella, a onetime playwright turned quintessential Miramaxer, may have rightfully concluded that adaptation was his strong point--yet the screenplay for his adaptation of Talented Mr. Ripley is by far its most tremendous shortcoming. Patricia Highsmith's terrifically readable 1955 crime fiction is written as tidily as any screenwriter could hope for (she also wrote Strangers on a Train). Scenes of psychological game playing mixed with insidious deception and droll humor leap off the page as if practically begging to be filmed. But instead of a straightforward adaptation, Minghella seems obliged to radically alter Highsmith's prose, as if this somehow was the only way to further secure his place as screenwriter extraordinaire. As it turns out, his alterations, particularly having to do with the trajectory of the title character--some mildly provocative yet most flamingly, gratuitously needless--cause the entire film's downfall, punching holes in the narrative instead of strengthening it. The picture is certainly adequate enough to pass for a guilty pleasure, though still one deeply problematic, highly irregular, fiercely misguided job. Luckily for Minghella, though, the film's sharpest tool is Matt Damon, whose characteristically dauntless, hugely difficult to pull off, near-perfect performance as Ripley is easily his best to date.

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Very creepy.

9/10
Author: Chris-999
29 June 2000

Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cate Blanchett give very good performances in this creepy suspense/mystery.

Matt Damon is hired to bring Jude Law, who lives in Italy with Gwyneth Paltrow. When he gets there,he becomes attached to both of them. But when Jude Law tries to back away from Matt Damon, Matt Damon goes crazy and WARNING SPOILLER! kills Jude Law and starts to live both lives END SPOILLER. Gwyneth Paltrow is the girlfriend who is on to Matt Damon. The whole thing leads to a disturbing ending.

Matt Damon is a good villian, GGweneth Paltrow is also good as the innocent woman trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and Jude Law and Cate Blanchett are equally as good, but the film is a little too long.

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