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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.
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.
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.
This film is highly overrated when it comes to the plot, the characters, the
setting and the location.
The fault is not the actors though. It is undoubtly Anthony Minghella's - he, who also directed the true stinker "The English Patient". Once again his love for the pittoresque Italy gives us a bizarre environment - showing us this pretty European country that gets so pretty it is grotesque.
Whenever Dickie or Tom or Marge or ANYONE passes the streets of Rome or Mongibello, there is either some nuns, a priest or a woman selling water melons! The Italy of it simply gets too Italian! And the characters dances as stars around in this poor, under developped but charming little country.
When it comes to the characters and the plot, it is evidently that Minghella has destroyed Patricia Highsmith's novel, which is quite allright. We never get to believe in Tom Ripley as a person, since he in Minghellas film simply gets too good at doing what he does. The foolishness peaks when the American detective Macmarron cannot see through his obvious lies. It is a shame for Matt Damon, who basically is being foolish in this film and never giving us an opportunity to see what he can do.
Dickie Greenleaf is actually the true hero of this film. I wish he had been killing Tom instead and so we could have been seeing some more of the talented Jude Law.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Marge is simply unbelieveable. People like her does not exist. And Gwyneth tries to save this poor fact by playing herself. So - Gwyneth is Gwyneth.
Cate Blanchett of course get a lot out of being Meredith - a blindfolded poor girl. I guess this film shows who really should have been given the Best Actress Oscar of '99....
Anthony Minghella means kitsch. As he is pouring people, things and Italy together in the way too beautiful pictures, he destroys finally this film. It is really a shame.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is only the second film I have ever seen in a cinema that I have been
tempted to walk out of. The crying shame about The Talented Mr Ripley is
that the first hour is so good. The plot slowly develops, and watching
Ripley's obsession with Dickie emerge is fascinating.
The acting from all four main actors (Damon, Law, Paltrow, Blanchett) is impeccable, with Jude Law in particular playing his role extremely well.
(spoiler) Once Ripley is a wanted man, the rest of the film is spent waiting for him to be caught. I counted SIX possible places where the film could have had a satisfactory ending, but the over-indulgent screenplay chooses to work through all of them. This makes the film about an hour too long (there were cheers in the cinema when it ended). My recommendation would be to go see this film, watch the first 90 minutes or so, which are great, and then leave, inventing your own ending.
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.
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