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Patricia Highsmith was fortunate to have Alfred Hitchcock adapt her
"Strangers on a Train" for the screen--and alas, she would have been equally
fortunate had Hitchcock tackled "The Talented Mr. Ripley". He would have
made more sense of the proceedings--and given it the kind of pace that would
have heightened the suspense.
But that's not to say that the film is a failure--not by any means. There are two fascinating central performances by Jude Law and Matt Damon. Unfortunately, there is a highly unsatisfactory performance by a miscast Gwyneth Paltrow. But that is not much of a flaw in this case because the film revolves entirely about the behavior of Damon and Law. It is their relationship with its homoerotic overtones that supplies the main interest and keeps the film from lagging before it reaches a rather unsatisfactory ending.
The Italian locations are breathtaking in color. All in all, an interesting film but it needed that Hitchcock touch.
Unfortunately, this movie lacks any subtlety in handling its main character. While in the book (and even in the French 1960-version) Ripley is the great enigma of 'emptiness', the 'man without character' and, therefore, one of the most interesting criminals in literature history (a more satiric version, perhaps, of Camus's "Stranger"), the character that offer us Minghella and the (miscast) Matt Damon is a simple immature, over-timid homosexual, who would be a nice guy if he was 'identical' with himself. "If you feel something, be consequent with it; if not, you will cause harm to others and to yourself" - that seems to be the flat morality of this in other aspects still brilliant movie. Brilliant, because it shows a BEAUTIFUL camera work and is able to preserve enough thrilling moments from Highsmith's novel to keep us 'breathless', sometimes. Nevertheless, I found the very handsome and charismatic Jude Law the much more 'unsettling' character than Matt Damon's Ripley, HE really has a indifference and coldness that is as 'profoundly superficial' as I expected (in vain) Matt Damon to be. In this respect, the cast is of course better than in the French movie where Alain Delon gives a stunning performance but without convincing that he aspires to be the OTHER, aspect that becomes completely clear under this constellation. - 5 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Some are loved by gods, others hated. Of those who inspire hatred of gods, some manage to live with it." Minghella is a great director. He made Damon play that creepy Ripley chap so convincingly, his craving so strongly portrayed, I could hardly believe it, remembering Damon's disastrous performance as the Good Will Hunting. He managed to make Paltrow look just a little bit overdone, which is a remarkable achievement. Much has been made of Jude Law's performance (oscar included), and though I really failed to see anything noteworthy, he was alright.
Hoffman is brilliant as Freddy. Italian footage is spectacular. Camera is excellent.
Yet... half an hour before the end I hated the film so intensely, I was almost surprised to find myself hating it even more in the 30 minutes that followed.
Why? It is abominably slow. And all the passion is spent on painting the psychological background for the murder in the first part of the film, and none is left even to try to make it convincing or just plain logical. Halfway into the movie you become absolutely sure that Ripley will kill Dickie, yet when he finally does it, you can't believe it. Ripley escapes, each time by a margin narrowing so rapidly as to become negative by the end.
Okay, I have already reviewed this film once, but I felt it necassary to add additional comments after watching it on video. Unlike American Beauty which didn't play up as well on a TV screen, this remains just as creepy and effective. As I said before it is very well acted by all involved, especailly Matt Damon and Jude Law. There is one thing that puzzles me though. Why the heck didn't Damon get an Academy Award Nomination for his brillant performance, same thing applies to the brillant direction. And I still can't believe people are still giving this film low marks like 1-5 and saying the direction is awful. Everything about this film is professional. It's score is very effective, the cinematography is beautiful and easy on the eyes. The characterizations are rich and very well done. The costumes are terrific and the ending is a shocker. Even the opening title sequence is brillant. This is my favorite film of 1999 and one of my favorites of all time. I just can not stress enough how good this film is.
I have seen reviews of this film and people give it 5/10 and 3/10. It is
just because they couldn't understand the film. I, myself found it
intriguing and my eyes were glued the the screen. The story is amazing, the
direction is fabulous and the acting is excellent. The story kept my ass
glued to my seat the whole time, with no intention of getting
In short, The Talented Mr. Ripley is the most intelligent thriller of 1999.
Matt Damon turns in one of the most effective performances I've ever seen in recent memories. He trashes his golden boy image to play a psycho, so creepy it will make your skin crawl. Every person in Hollywood after seeing this film must be scared of him. Story involves Matt Damon staring as a poor working class who borrows a Yale or was it Harvard letter jacket to play the piano at a party for some rich snobs. After it is over he finds himself being asked to go to Italy to retrieve a millionaire's son (Jude Law). Upon arrival in Italy, Damon becomes so wrapped up in the rich life style, that he kills for it. Special attention must also be payed to Law for effectively stealing every single scene he is in, even though the cast includes two Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee. And then there is the beautiful cinematography, and the brilliant music score, and the terrific costumes and locations that makes us feel like we're back in Italy in the 50's. And then there is of course the brillant direction and script. What a terrific film. My favorite film of 1999 and one of my favorite films of all time. A perfect 10 for 10. Go see this film right away.
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.
I'm still left with some disappointment in this movie. Yes, Matt Damon did
the most challenging role of his career so far, and he was convincing, but
the plot itself left more to be desired. Why go so far as to kill all of
these people? What started off as something that reminded me of the
"The Count of Monte Cristo" ended up being one gory murder after another.
one point, I really thought I would vomit right there in the theatre.
The ending was the worst of all. It reminded me a lot of "Crime & Punishment," except Tom just keeps killing. It seemed so absurd, so pointless.
Yet, I can't down the film entirely. The writing was great, and so was the acting by all. The cinematography was beautifully shot, and I enjoyed the '50s attire.
But, it still reminds of that old cough medicine that promises to be great-tasting, yet it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
This movie had some of the best acting I have seen all year (except Gwyneth who is at best an entertaining actress, but not a Best actress). The story is slow, but it keeps you interested because you keep waiting to see what Damon does next, and if he will get caught. However, after 2 1/2 hours it just ends!!! It claimed to be a Hitchcock like mystery, and it was doing a heck of a job as a slow character study, but there is not payoff for the mystery itself. You can assume many things, but all of the classics at least let you know what happened to the character, no matter how twisted he or she was. This just ends. Very, very frustrating, and that let down is what you walk out with.
Infuriating and exhilarating, Mr. Ripley in a vague way echoes Hitchcock, but more explicitly recalls the homosexual panic films of the 50s-60s, i.e., Streetcar, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Reflections in a Golden Eye, Suddenly Last Summer, even Tea & Sympathy, taken of course, to different pathologies. Matt Damon has amazing moments, at times almost reverting to a terrified little girl. He just has to kill -- still defending himself from something --some childhood terror he wants to tell us about and never will. He leaves it all in a "dark basement". He's a beautiful blank page that everyone's dying to write on. One can only wonder what Monty Clift or Rock Hudson would have accomplished in this territory. Ms. Paltrow misses the boat as an expatriate, post-war bohemian novelist who can't figure out what's wrong with the plot until it's too late. She's too somber, her "intuition" kicks in way too late. Substitute Barbara Bel Geddes in Vertigo mode, Liz Taylor in Suddenly. Jude law is beyond criticism here -- and I hope he gets an oscar nomination. Minghella does a fine, detailed job walking the tightrope between the ridiculously naive and all out terror, between the homophobic impulse and a genuine desire to get beneath the skin of a monster. His last shot is masterly -- backing into a closet, the empty wire coat hangers jangling, the closet door shuts. A very disturbing film.
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