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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.
*** 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.
Having said that, I've read a lot of the other reviews, and many seem
to feel the characterization of Ripley in the book is superior to the
film version. It sounds like the novel's Ripley was a more proactive
kind of a guy: rather than waiting for things to happen to him, he went
out and MADE them happen. That approach would seem to make more sense
in this kind of drama. The Ripley of the film was almost inert. The
only real effort he put into the story line was to learn something
about jazz. Opportunistic in only the most passive of ways, he allowed
events to wash over him like ocean waves and then only sprang into
action when it was absolutely necessary to direct the events himself.
This type of character rarely reaches significant levels of success in
his chosen field, whether it's brain surgery or identity theft.
I'll admit that I had my doubts about the plot from the start, right from the time Ripley "connected" with Greenleaf Senior over the Princeton jacket. I have a little experience with the "old boy" system and I find it almost impossible to believe that Ripley was able to convincingly present that he was ever at Princeton because I know the kinds of questions that always get asked when an alma mater is being discussed among fresh acquaintances.
I'm one who didn't mind the length of the film, at least; it seemed to want to have a lot to say and I was fine with how long it took to try and tell it. I don't have much of an opinion on Matt Damon one way or the other, but he was nothing special here. Jude Law and Philip Seymour Hoffman turned in the best performances by far. The location shooting was beautiful.
All in all, there was enough here to make me curious about reading the original novel someday, but the film itself is only average.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anthony Minghella, director and screenplay writer of the English
Patient and Cold Mountain in addition to this film, open The Talented
Mr. Ripley with a bang. It starts off with such promise and is
intriguing. The photography in this film is excellent and the acting is
superb. Minghella certainly knows how to get the most out of his given
crop of talent. The great thing about the direction of this film is
that it holds up extremely well. It is not hard to get through but the
story itself will leave your skin crawling which is another testament
to how well each actor performs right down to the most minor of
The Talented Mr. Ripley is a mix between Catch Me If You Can and Psycho. Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) seems like a normal kid who catches a break while wearing a jacket that does not belong to him. Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn) offers to pay Tom to bring his son back from Europe. The amount of money offered to Tom seems like it might be more than Tom has seen in his entire life. Wearing that jacket is what starts Tom on this journey to try and be someone more interesting than himself. He is a deeply troubled character with little to no self worth. He loves everyone he meets more than himself and never wants to leave their sides. Tom eventually meets Herbert Greenleaf's son, Dickie (Jude Law). Tom, Dickie and Dickie's fiancé Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) eventually become extremely close friends. Tom uses his talents of impersonation and desire to become anyone but himself to stay with Dickie for as long as possible. They string Herbert Greenleaf along and have him continue to funnel money to the two of them for as long as possible. Dickie eventually begins to tire of being around Tom and begins to make a new friend, Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman). This is about the time where the movie takes a bit of a turn. The events up to this point all trigger a downward spiral as this movie begins to tear down each character and the relationships developed. The unraveling of Tom Ripley is quite substantial. Once Tom's first layer is gone, he replaces it with a layer not of his own until almost every part of Tom Ripley is gone with the exception of the cold and dark core that he cannot let anyone into.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is an excellent movie that I feel I can only watch once because it becomes very tough to get through. Anthony Minghella does a great job in putting you in the world of Tom Ripley but in doing so makes the viewing experience quite dark in certain spots. Tom is a mold waiting to be shaped into those around him and as he gathers information about other characters Anthony Minghella is painting a wonderful picture of every character in the film. Each character is extremely complex and this film would not be the same without every one of those pieces. This character study is one of the best ones as each character brings something different. Tom wants to be anyone but himself and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal and keep his idols around him. Dickie is a self centered rich kid who uses everyone he meets including his fiancé. Speaking of her, Marge wants nothing more than to have Dickie love her unconditionally. She fears that he will use her and toss her aside which may not be far from the truth. Freddie is probably the biggest wild card among the group as you don't get to learn much about Freddie other than he is on par with Dickie in terms of social status and he steals the show whenever he is on screen. Much of that might just be attributed to Philip Seymour Hoffman's incredible acting as he seems to trump everything around him whenever he is on screen.
I would suggest that everyone see this movie at least once for the acting alone as it almost appears as if Minghella would not quit until every take was excellent. Tom Ripley will leave your skin crawling for days.
Matt Damon plays Tom Ripley in the movie the "The Talented Mr. Ripley".
Tom is an underachiever with a career as a bathroom attendant. Working
as a piano player Tom Ripley needs a jacket so he borrows one with a
Princeton patch. Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn) who mistakes Tom for
a Princeton student and engages in conversation with him approaches
him. Soon the conversation turns to Herbert's son Dickie Greenleaf,
played by Jude Law, and his carefree life style in Europe. Herbert
begins to trust Tom and soon offers him a job to go to Europe and bring
Once in Italy we see Tom's true talents and his multi personalities come out. Tom soon befriends Dickie and Marge Sherwood, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Now living a life of privilege Tom is willing to do anything to keep that life. Matt Damon plays this character wonderfully. Tom is an indifferent, cold hearted, and immoral individual who will lie, cheat, steal, and even murder to achieve his goal. Throughout the movie, Tom invents stories to create a beautiful life the viewer can sense he did not live. There is also vulnerability in Tom and a need to be a better person by assuming another identity Tom sees as worthy.
In the film, Tom longs to be close to Dickie and create a true friendship with him. Tom is even tempted to tell Dickie the truth about his past. However, as the rich often do, Dickie tires of Tom and is soon dismissing his relationship with Tom. Dickie turns cruel and accuses Tom of becoming a parasite and a fraud. This trait in Dickie has the viewer feeling as if Dickie is using Tom so to the viewer Tom becomes the hero. As the hero, the audience is elated when Tom eludes the authorities and escapes justice. The movie theme is about understanding and accepting oneself no matter how life has treated you. Dickie had wealth and power yet was selfish with little to no concern for an individual's feelings. Tom grew up wanting to be something he was not and had an overwhelming need for others to see him as perfect. For those who find this theme represented to dramatically the same theme can be found in the 1948 musical film "The Pirate" with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. Throughout the film, the lighting was used to express a desired mood or tone in the storyline. A prime example of this was Tom and Dickies first meeting. Dickie is shown in the sunlight as tan, fit, and almost as if, he has a glow around him. While Tom is, pale and looks out of place on the bright beaches of Italy. This is symbolic to represent Tom as an outsider looking in on Dickie's world. This gives the viewer an insight as to how desperate Tom is to enter the sunlight. The film angle also created the desired effects throughout the movie. Tom wants to be Dickie and several camera angles catch Tom studying Dickie. In the scenes the viewer can comprehend, Tom wants to monitor every movement so he can imitate them. The best example of the camera angle supporting the theme can be found during the last train ride Tom and Dickie share. The movie audience can watch Tom's reflection in the mirror due to the camera angle. This scene captures how well Matt Damon has played this troubled character. Tom lies next to Dickie and takes large whiffs of him. Tom is almost sucking the life out of Dickie so that he might truly become him. Thanks to the lighting and camera angles, the mover viewer can understand Tom and his struggle to be accepted by society. These film tricks bring the theme to life and the audience supports Tom as the victim instead of the murder.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have just one thing that is giving me the absolute irrits about this film and that is the situation leading up to the murder scene or dickie.....why go out in a small boat, just the 2 of u and proceed to tell a guy u hate him, that u basically don't like him anymore and not expect him to lash out?????? of course ripley was going to do something, i mean he wasn't that much of a wuss....only that scene irritates me out of a very good movie non the less.
When I discovered that this movie was playing in theaters. I didn't care to
see it, since it looked uninteresting to me; nevertheless, after finding out
it was directed by one of my favorite directors - Anthony Miguella - I
rented it as soon as I could. Anthony Miguella's movies are amazing. I
really felt over the course of the movie that Anthony Miguella directed it,
since it seemed like the superb film "The English Patient". "The talented
Mr. Ripley" is rather fascinating. It's very well told and acted. Matt Damon
was amazing in portraying Mr. Ripley. He seemed like a very kind and shy man
at the beginning of the movie, but after going to Italy he shows his true
intentions - The way he always lied was incredible. I never thought a person
could be so unscrupulous to ensure his success. You'll certainly see the
differences among many personalities in this movie. Matt Damon was amazing;
he really acted quite well. He was plausible and mysterious as Mr. Ripley.
His performance made me so intrigued to find out what his end would be. I
really didn't like Matt Damon's performance in "Good Will Hunting" that
much; nevertheless he carries out his role admirably in this movie.
As for Jude Law, I think he is amazing as well. He envelops himself into the role quite well. He'll make you follow this movie without disliking it; his academy award nomination was really well deserved.
As for Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett, I think they were completely outstanding; they are both great actresses. Gwyneth Paltrow won an academy award winner for best actress in a leading role in "Shakespeare in love" in 1999. As for Cate Blanchet, she won an academy award nomination for best actress in "Elizabeth" in the same year.
The plot is rather good and interesting, the movie is beautiful visually; it was amazing to see Europe. I really like when Tom Ripley kills Dickie on a boat by hitting him with the oar. It's impressive when Dickie's face starts to bleed. I never thought a shy man like Ripley would become a killer. The way he lies to everybody to avoid the truth being revealed is thoroughly depressing; however, it shows us that lies take us nowhere. This is a good life lesson. Even though it's a good movie, I think the ending was somewhat disappointing and depressing, since I was waiting for something to happen at the end, but nothing happened. It showed us that Mr. Ripley felt Remorse because of all the things he did.
Overall, This is not as great as `The English Patient', but it's beautifully filmed and well done. 7/10
After I saw 'Shakespeare in Love', I was so wondered of Gwyneth Paltrow that I decided to see another movie with her. I chased 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' the film she made after 'Shakespeare...' Gwyneth's performance was good but the story was complicated and confusing. Jude Law was very remarkable in his role, he gave a very good performance maybe the best of all the actors. Also the small part of Cate Blancett who played Queen Elizabeth in the same named movie. Matt Damon's part was good acted but also very confusing and I don't understand some things in the movie.
But I am very grateful that actors like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude law, Matt Damon... are put in one film together it isn't such a good film but there are always good- and weak movies. But the director, actors and the crew are still very professional people who can make very big & good movies.
--->It's a film that you have to see twice when you will understand it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Those of you who haven't read the book should really do so before
watching the film.
How can anybody not have gotten around to reading these books yet? However, I digress.
Why wasn't I bowled over by this? Simple answer. Tom Ripley may have bisexual leanings but he's not hysterical. The key turning point in the book is a premeditated murder but this adaptation portrays it as a crime of passion. The truly chilling aspect of his character in Highsmith's novel is the ease with which he plans and executes this murder, presumably his first.
This threw me completely. I didn't expect the film to be able to get things like Tom's poor opinion of Dickie's Italian but I thought getting the motive right would have been possible.
But for the changes to Tom's character I though the film was actually quite good. Philip Seymour Hoffman was superb as Freddie Miles. The opening sequence was a bravura piece of film-making, expertly edited by Walter Murch. The potentially confusing plot and web of coincidences was handled quite well.
But after the murder I just kept on thinking of how off the mark the film was.
I acknowledge that this was a very good film, with superior acting throughout. And I normally like to view such films three and four times, both to pick up what I might have missed the first time, and to savor again that which I enjoyed in the first viewing. But I confess that once was enough for me on this one -- it made me too uncomfortable to contemplate a second time. Of course, this is probably a testimonial to how good a movie it is, and I'll throw in the towel and concede the point--[there may be a child in my neighborhood who is exceptionally fine at pulling the wings off of living butterflies] -- but I don't ever want to watch it, and I don't want to see this movie ever again.
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