Matt Damon plays a very troubled young man who longs for attention, acceptance, and love. He doesn't feel those things when he's himself; the only way he feels complete and alive is when he pretends to be someone else. For example, he borrows a fancy dinner jacket and attends a party, someone mistakes him for a well-to-do Princeton graduate, and he transforms into the man he's thought to be. He enjoys his disguise and likes it infinitely better than his own skin. The subtleties Matt Damon brings to his performance are breathtaking. A lesser actor would have played the part differently, and the film-despite Anthony Minghella's beautiful directing and Gabriel Yared's intense music-would have felt a little cheap. Matt Damon truly becomes Mr. Ripley, just as convincingly as Mr. Ripley becomes other people. You can see every reason behind his behavior clearly on his face, and every hurt, shame, doubt, and fear is communicated delicately between him and the camera. It's an incredible performance.
A host of familiar faces join the supporting cast, including Cate Blanchett, James Rebhorn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall, Jack Davenport, Celia Weston, and Gwyneth Paltrow, as Jude Law's girlfriend. I've always felt Gwyneth to be exceptionally talented at blending into her roles. She's just as convincing in Emma as she is in Shallow Hal, and in this film, she seems completely at home in her 1950s surroundings.
Depending on how dark you like your movies, you might hate The Talented Mr. Ripley or you might add it to your collection to watch on dark, spooky evenings. I've seen it twice, because I love films with fantastic acting in them. Just be aware it isn't for the faint of heart, and there are some pretty upsetting scenes in it.
Kiddy warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, due to violence, I wouldn't let my kids watch it.