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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.
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.
I, too, cannot understand what the critics and others saw in this movie. I
found it too long, too drawn out and overwhelmingly dull. Throughout, I
waited for some climactic scene, but there was none. The only saving grace
was the beautiful cinematic shots of Italy.
Save your money and use it for something else.
This movie left me wondering where my money went. I sat through the entire thing hoping that something would happen to make the movie entertaining, but all it did was have the same events happen over and over again with no resolution. It built up a lot of tension, but never releases it. I blame this solely on the screenwriter, because it was well directed, well acted, and the scenery and music were excellent, but the plot lacked. I haven't read the book, and probably never read it now. Even my friends (who like more dramatic movies than I do) were highly dissapointed. The trailer was very misleading in the fact that this movie is not suspenseful in the least as there is no real mystery to what is going on. I don't recommend this movie to anybody, instead go see "Man on the Moon" or something.
Duality -- the ability to be one person in a certain situation, and
in another -- is the underlying and pervading theme of "The Talented Mr.
Ripley." It is a theme that sparks the central conflict of the picture,
that influences each of the main character's decisions and actions. Each
character in the film is either pretending to be something else, or
directly to a superficial identity. The film unravels each of the
character's motivations for doing so, and in so doing strips away the
of reality we construct for ourselves. Characters either uncover the
explicit duality of their lives (Cate Blanchette's willingness to admit
she travels under another name), or have it uncovered for them (Tom
When each character is laid bare, when each character is most fully
themselves, when each character stops acting and pretending, they are
The film presents a main character who does his best to pursue another life -- but he cannot ultimately follow through with it. We are trapped by who we are, aren't we? Gwyneth tries to become Dickie's ideal woman, to avoid asking him to settle down, but she cannot -- she wants the home and the family. This is her undoing -- she weeps in the film, "I must have pressured him". Dickie can't escape the fact that he loves the nightlife -- that he strays, that his attention only lasts as long as the diversion. He says he will marry Gwyneth, but we know that his eye can never stop roaming. This is his undoing. Dickie's pal -- superficially polite, while snide and arrogant at the same time -- is much smarter than he appears, which leads to his undoing as well. When each of the characters lets their guard down and becomes who they are, it destroys them. Each of the characters has a tragic flaw that they try to ignore, or play to, a flaw which undoes the perfect lives they all pursue.
The ironic twist is that Tom Ripley is the catalyst for all of this -- yet, his tragic flaw is that he has no flaw. While each of the main characters has an identity they are running from, Ripley HAS no identity to speak of. He starts out pretending, and he pretends through the entire film. Who IS Tom Ripley? Even Tom himself wants to know. One would think that this would enable him to become the perfect actor -- when you paint on a blank canvas, one would think you can paint anything. But even Tom, blank as he is, distills down to someone -- even if it is a blank canvas, a "real nobody." And it is not only himself he is unsure of -- it is the entire world around him. Among his first lines in the film is a line uttered while listening to a jazz record -- he mumbles to himself, "Can't tell if it's a woman or a man." It is this uncertainty that informs the world he sees, and how he relates to it. Is Tom gay or straight? Is he evil or good? Even Tom doesn't know.
The film points out that we cannot run from our own darker half. We are all tempted to become someone else -- anyone who has been made fun of in school, who has longed for the life of the rich and famous, can identify with this The enemy is not without, it is within. It is this same duality which haunted and tormented so many of Hitchock's characters, most notably (but not exclusively) Norman Bates in "Psycho." "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a worthy heir to that film classic in its ability to get the audience to sympathize and empathize with Tom. We feel his love for Dickie Greenleaf -- we feel his frustration at being shut out of his life -- we feel the awkwardness of being trapped in a situation that was never intended. As we watched Marion Crane's car pause in the swamp and waited breathlessly, perversely hoping it would sink and allow Norman's mother to get away with murder, so too we watch Tom Ripley descend into darkness, and when the cops arrive at his hotel, we wait breathlessly with Tom, hoping he will get away.
Duality is present within us all... and while we are taught "to thine own self be true," in this film it is only when we are true to ourselves, that true pain comes.
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