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The Talented Mr. Ripley
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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Although sometimes maligned as a bad career choice for Damon, it is anything but, being a totally riveting and memorable film

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
27 October 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) works in a music hall and wishes, so, so much, that he was rich. He did attend an Ivy league school but, as a scholarship student, he was never in the limelight. A chance encounter with Mr. Greenleaf, a wealthy gentleman, results in a European vacation for Tom. This is because Mr. Greenleaf is hoping young Mr. Ripley can persuade his ex-patriot son, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) and his beautiful girlfriend, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) to return to the United States. But, once there, Tom gets caught up in joining Dickie and company in their "high life" existence, for Dickie assumes that Tom is a rich classmate he just never really knew. Only one friend (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) suspects that Mr. Ripley is not who he seems. Things get even more complicated when a boat trip taken by Dickie and Tom goes tragically awry. Will Tom's insatiable wealth-envy destroy the lives of those around him? This is a first-rate film, no matter what others have written about it. It has a sensational plot, a wonderful cast, and is gloriously lovely to look at, with its exotic locales and great costumes. As the principal cast member, Damon is excellently subdued in a most difficult and complicated role. Law, Paltrow, Hoffman, and all of the lesser cast members are great, also. Then, too, the direction is energetic and tantalizing, giving full fruition to the ingeniously sinister plot. In summary, don't skip this one, if you care about classic suspense films. Many a viewer will find it a great, great watch.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Tom has found a new friend that doesn't love him back...

Author: Stefan Koenen from Rotterdam, Netherlands
20 March 2006

Napoli, Roma, San Remo, Venezia: need I say more! I like Italy and I like movies about Italy... This movie is great. It has suspense, beautiful pictures of Italy and a great cast! I have seen this movie about 10 times now and still love it! Matt, Jude and Gwyneth are great. This should have been an Oscar magnet. I don't know why it wasn't noticed. Maybe because Tom and Peter are gay? What I find striking is that the movie is even better than the book! Hire, buy and see this movie, you won't regret it! Also watch out for the other Ripley movie (Game) with John Malokovich. It has the same suspense and good (but different) cast!

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A classy film with a deceptively simple narrative supported by loads of great subtexts

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
21 December 2004

Tom Ripley is a piano tuner and toilet attendant who borrows a Princeton blazer to play at a wedding and finds himself assuming the role of an old friend of the Greenleafs' son. Working the way into their confidence, Tom is offered payment to go to Italy and bring the son (Dickie) back home to the US. Arriving in Italy, Tom continues the performance and tricks his way into the friendship of Dickie and his girlfriend Marge. However, as he spends more time with Dickie he starts to fall in love with him and envy what he has, leading him to begin to play Dickie as a role as well.

It has been years since the critical loving over this film occurred and the awards were doled out but yet I had not seen it yet. I watched it last year until the video cut out after an hour so this time I just made sure and watch it as it was on TV. The plot sounds quite simple and it made me wonder how it would fill the running time but I was happy to see it did it by being patient and building the characters while also having enough going on to keep audience attention. The story is, as the title says, about Tom Ripley and it uses the basic tale to run threads about envy, social climbing, sexual desire, personality etc all through the film, making each one of them as interesting as the actual narrative itself. This collection of ideas and thought-provoking material works very well and the film lingers as a result of them. The direction is simple but classy, with some very effective touches to some shots that in themselves add meaning to what we are seeing.

Matching this, the cast are all very good in their roles but the film belongs to Matt Damon. He is faithful to the script by showing the complexity of his character and also the emotions he feels are convincing throughout. He is personable as well as needy, deceptive as he is revealing – it is a very good performance. Law is also as good and it is a shame that some people who hate him in this do so because of the homosexual element to his performance – for me I thought he added the sexual tension between him and Damon really well. Damon is the main star but the support cast is also deep in quality with Paltrow, Blanchett, Hoffman, Hall and even Coupling's Davenport giving good performances.

Overall this is a great film but not because the story is great because, during the film, the main story is simple and some viewers may be bored by it. However what kept me interested were the many threads and ideas running within it, all of them making me think and adding layers to the characters. These layers are seized upon by the actors, in particular Matt Damon, an actor I'm not overly fond of but has great range nonetheless. All these are pulled together by good direction and delivered in a classy product that, like Tom, is much more than it seems on the surface.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, fantastic, thrilling (10/10 rating).

Author: Buffy from Hellhole
18 March 2003

`The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate Talented Mr. Ripley' is too good a movie to explain why its so good. Basically, the feel is fantastic. The ambience and violence subtly concealed in the silence of its emotions is enigmatic. This movie captures the essence of the original novel and every scene in the film justifies its presence.

The screenplay, direction, the cast and location are most appropriate and do full justification to the story. Matt Damon excels in the role of Tom and is able to portray the emotions that Tom goes through in adverse situations extremely well. The adoration of Dickie turning into the desire to be exactly like Dickie, the anger and hurt caused by Dickie's indifference and rejection, the tumult after the realization of his actions, the panic on being discovered by Freddie and Marge, the immediate recovery from panic into the grim resolve to nip the trouble in the bud, the acceptance of the unfortunate but necessary elimination of Peter, everything has been enacted out by Matt Damon beautifully and his is a truly outstanding performance, worthy of the Oscar.

This film is true to the portrayal of Ripley's mind at work. The depiction of the frustrations of being a real nobody in a world which demands lot more than it can give forces people to try to become a fake somebody is brilliantly exhibited in each scene. The human mind is a labyrinth of pleasure and pain and it rationalizes each act of aggression with justifications created and accepted by the mind itself. Even the sense of success and failure in life is controlled by the mind and the illusion is sometimes too great to overcome.

This movie provoked me into reading Patricia Highsmith's book and the later Ripley novels to track the growth of the central character. I have yet to read "Ripley Underwater" though.

Brilliant movie.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of the best character studies ever made!

Author: learnnew from Florida
1 February 2003

This movie is a brilliant portrayal of a troubled mind. The movie never dwells on how and why Tom Ripley became the impersonator that he was. But it is unnecessary in this movie. Sadly because he could not share his secrets to anyone, he lived a lonely life. But Tom Ripley was a man with love and insecurities. His insecurities made him utterly selfish to the point of being inhumane, recluse and shy, but he had rather strong feelings. So many times he came close to confessing to Peter and even Marge. He even considered confessing to Inspector Roverini and Meredith. But he couldn't. There were so many times he thought he was totally cornered and that he had no way out. But he was not weak enough to commit suicide. His instincts of self-preservation (however crude they may have been) pushed him into committing murders so that he could move on. He was a doomed character unless he confessed to someone and let them take over his life and restore him. But he never could do it till the time shown in the end of the movie. That is why he had to push away all the people that he loved and that loved him (or hated him). And the only way he knew to push them away was by murdering them. And the only way he survived all this (or a person like him can survive all this) was through his intelligence and his three talents.

Now onto the review of the movie. Matt Damon acted his very best. It is not easy for the viewer to understand and appreciate the character that Minghella wanted Damon to portray. I thought Damon did a superb job. Often times, he had to show Ripley's mind simply through his mannerisms. I thought he portrayed the conflict in the character very well. The disarming innocence and simplicity to the point of humility, the unassuming confidence about his talents, the discomfort of not fitting in, the charming or nerdy smile (as appropriate) and a seeming ignorance of his attractive traits were all superbly portrayed by him. I believe he should have definitely garnered much more recognition for the superlative performance. Jude Law and Jack Davenport were amazing in their roles as well. The character of Dickie Greenleaf is as complicated as that of Tom Ripley, except that they have been brought up in the opposite ends of the spectrum and their lifestyles show ample proofs for that. They both seek not too dissimilar ends, though they seek it through totally different means. The difference in their positions in the society is also shown by the denial-mode that Greenleaf is in, as opposed to a certain degree of understanding and acceptance of his personality by Ripley. This does not mean Greenleaf is dumb, as is evidenced in his last scenes before being murdered by Ripley. I definitely think Jude Law gave another superlative performance in the movie. Cate Blanchett was suitably artificial, while Gwyneth Paltrow was brilliant in flashes. My jury is still out on Paltrow's abilities. Philip Seymour Hoffmann was brilliant as well. He and Damon clearly depicted the uncomfortable understanding and anger that was always there between their characters in the undercurrent. Stefania Rocca was good in the very few scenes she was in.

Much has been said about the cinematography of the movie and I completely agree with the praise. The script, editing and direction were first rate. That is ultimately why the film succeeded totally in its objectives. Minghella should have garnered a directorial nomination as well.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Vision, Art and Talent

Author: Andreas Araouzos ( from Nicosia, Cyprus
25 January 2003

I read Patricia Highsmith's novel before I watched the film (in fact I was just in time!), not because `the book is always better than the movie' (I am not in favour of such generalisations), but because I felt obliged to be chronologically correct in following the artistic adaptation. Trying it the other way around can only make sense if you can be objective enough or unbiased.

Artistic genius is what I'd call Anthony Minghella, who adapted and directed for the screen the latest masterpiece The Talented Mr Ripley. This 1955 novel is Highsmith's first of a number of Ripley stories. Needless to say, after the success of this screen adaptation, the others will follow, however with a different cast and crew and hence, in my opinion, with doubtful success to come. The Talented Mr Ripley is a novel dipped in dense psychology and intriguing human interaction. It is the journey of the aspiring young man Thomas Ripley around Italy and his deceitful engagements brought about by the ---ironically- innocent desire of happiness. The reader is immersed in the raw psychological reality that is sometimes frightfully familiar to all. Admiration, desire, jealousy, hatred, lies. the never-ending change of environment and circumstances, and yet the ever-stable personal fixations, traumas and needs. Thomas Ripley is not to be despised. And although he surely does not provide the example to follow, he is occasionally to be identified with.

How masterfully Minghella has simplified the story without losing any density, and in fact making the whole picture better defined than in the book, should be a screenplay adaptation teaching example. A novelist has the enormous advantage of 'psychographic' elaboration and exploration, and Highsmith most certainly excelled in delivering Tom's complex portrait. But then Minghella took advantage of film imagery and dialogue and never lost the complexity and tension of any character, even with economised plot events, which are, in fact, appreciated. Additions and changes such as the impersonation of Herbert Greenleaf, the saxophone instead of painting, the characters of Meredith and Peter, and many more, were really assets to the story on screen. Now, on the slightly negative side, the film suffers the same thing that the book does (unavoidably). That is how the audience (or reader) excitement declines in the second half. Police interrogation and `factual proceedings' in the second half replace a lot of captivating character interaction in a most beautiful environment in the first half. And I did prefer the book's ending. It leaves you with enough question marks for the evening (in cases like myself for the week) but not too many on the other hand, like the film does.

The subtlety of the homosexuality element in both film and book is skilfully real and it is only optional whether that is an issue taking priority in the whole picture or not. Finally what I found very interesting, but not necessarily agreeable, was the transformation of the Tom-Marge relationship. The loathing-turned-into-sympathy of the book is entirely reversed in the film. I found the book's version more enjoyable. As for the Marge-Dickie relationship, the book's rather platonic version is more interesting and uniquely real, but I guess the constraints of cinema in terms of audience attraction and box-office performance are too risky to ignore.

The verdict: A very good book and a brilliant adaptation. Matt Damon's weak, innocent and perplexed Ripley is a thriving achievement, Jude Law shines in a most convincing manner, Gwyneth Paltrow always looks fabulous as the tortured victim and Cate Blanchett is simply a delight to watch in all respects. Music and cinematography are beautiful. There is simply no flaw in the cast or production team of The Talented Mr Ripley.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A Classic Suspense Masterpiece

Author: doctor_dolittle from Tucson, AZ, USA
4 August 2000

I'm convinced that when you watch this movie you either going to absolutely love it or truly despise it. The Talented Mr. Ripley opens to a group of black lines running up and down the screen, much like the beginning of Psycho, and continues on the same level as the classic all the way throughout the film. Matt Damon gives a chilling performance as Tom Ripley, a 1950's sociopath with a love for the piano. While borrowing a Princeton jacket from someone to tickle the ivories, Tom runs into Mr. Greenleaf who mistakes Tom for a Princeton graduate, therefore associating him with his playboy son, Dickie, played perfectly by Jude Law. Mr. Greenleaf offers Tom $1,000 to go to Italy and bring back his spoiled brat. Being nothing but a poor boy, Tom does not correct the man on his assumption and gladly takes the trip and money. While in Italy, Tom meets up with Dickie and his betrothed Margie, Gwyneth Paltrow, convincing them, as he had done with Mr. Greenleaf, that he knew Dickie from college. Dickie and Tom strike up an instant friendship, and perhaps more, making each the brother the other never had. As the story progresses, it does not turn into a typical slash and gash flick, but a slower-paced, tense psychological thriller, putting you directly into the mind of a truly disturbed man, and in doing so, making you actually root for the bad guy. Tom Ripley is the obvious villain, but you just cannot help but like him. Making Tom so enjoyable is his complexity, and the disgust you feel for the other characters. Tom is confused man with motives that do not depend on revenge or hatred, but love. When Tom meets his socialite companions, he believes they actually care him. Margie puts out an `I'll be your best friend' demeanor while Dickie confuses Tom, who is already flustered by his sexuality, into believing he loves him. Dickie is a spoiled, rude, angry, adulterer, his girlfriend is an overbearing back-stabber, his best friend, is almost as bad as Dickie himself, and then there's Meredith, another pampered, egocentric rich girl. With a group of `innocent' victims like this, it is no wonder that Tom becomes the most amicable. Anthony Minghella combines lush landscape, spine-tingling music, and deliberate pacing to create a chilling classic. True-to-life characters, exotic locations, a conceivable story, and the surprise of homosexual overtones, we are given a film that will, no doubt, go down in cinematic history as a landmark masterpiece. Every performance is right on the money. Matt Damon has that boy-next-door look that really scares you into thinking that anyone could be a psychotic murderer. Where many actors would overdo Ripley by giving him evil grins or wide eyes around every corner, Matt Damon underplays this and makes Tom frighteningly realistic. Along with him, the supporting actors are excellent. Jude Law manages to pull off an American accent to perfection and turns Dickie Greenleaf from a self-centered rich boy into a hated bastard. Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchet are also wonderful in their contrasting female leads, Philip Seymour Hoffman pulls off another great performance as Freddie, Dickie's counter spoiled-brat, and Jack Davenport is incredible as Peter, the only character that is actually ultimately good-natured. Sensational direction, superb casting, and a tight-locked script make The Talented Mr. Ripley one of the 10 Best films of the year. A+! A chilling good time!

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


31 October 2001

If this isn't the worst film I've ever seen, it's certainly in the top (or in this case, bottom) ten of all time. None of the characters are sympathetic in any way, and that's just the beginning of the problems with this movie. I forced myself to watch this thing all the way through, and at the end my only reaction was "huh?". That's not a very good sign. The fact that it was nominated for Best Picture of The Year tells me that the Motion Picture Academy people must not actually watch the movies that they nominate.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Pathetic, Yet Apropos

Author: spitz75 from San Francisco
30 October 2000

Gee, aren't I interested in some rich, gorgeous, self-centered schmuck and the dweeb who actually looks up to him. I mean, come on people? Is that America? Are my fellow Americans just dying to be perfect and rich; and nothing more? Gawd! What an annoying and useless movie. If every character would have dropped dead at the end, perhaps then there would have been some redemption.

Side Note... the director's previous work is also terribly overrated. I'm a complete romance freak. I love Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas. However, the English Patient rates as about a 5 for a great romance flick. Mediocre.

Matt Damon... overrated... Gwyneth... terribly overrated. Jude Law is very good. This "Mr. Ripley" flick... Ech! Almost offensive to any person who's got any sense of individuality or intellect at all.

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29 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

An Odd, Intriguing And - Yes - 'Strange' Film

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
21 August 2006

This is an odd film. The first hour sets up Matt Damon's character, "Tom Ripley," to do what he eventually does, kill someone and then imitate the rich kid off in Europe. However, to be fair, his murder of friend "Dickie Greenleaf" (Jude Law) is almost made to look like self-defense. It's an odd scene in this odd movie. As the story unfolds, however, "Ripley" is shown to be a sick killer, hardly some innocent man caught in some self-defense predicament.

The second half of the film deals with Damon's character trying to get away with his scheme while other people slowly start to question who he is and what he's doing. Some people trust him; some don't. A few twists make the story even more interesting. The only facet that didn't appeal to me were the overt homosexual overtones in this film which were prevalent throughout Damon's relationships with a couple of men, although nothing sexually was ever done and even though these guys also had girlfriends. Speaking of the latter, Gwyneth Paltrow is good in here as "Marge Sherwood," someone who is ahead of the pack when it comes to uncovering the truth. Cate Blanchett is good, too, as usual, but her role was much smaller and one I'm not sure was all about.

Overall, this is intriguing drama-crime story with a lot of suspense and done so without a lot of violence. All the characters in this movie grab your attention. Combine that with good European scenery and involving storyline and you have a movie worth investigating.

I read where this film also goes under the title, "The Strange Mr. Ripley."

Strange, indeed.

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