After his friend, a hot young artist, is killed, a resourceful American man living in London covers up the crime and tries to keep the friend's name alive in order to exploit his legacy and...
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In late 1950s New York, Tom Ripley, a young underachiever, is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the errand fails, Ripley takes extreme measures.
After his friend, a hot young artist, is killed, a resourceful American man living in London covers up the crime and tries to keep the friend's name alive in order to exploit his legacy and reap millions in the process. Written by
Filmed back in 2004, but left on the shelf for 3 years, 'Ripley Under Ground' aka 'White On White' has been released on DVD in Europe.
Barry Pepper plays Ripley as something of a low-key rock-star - long hair, a close shave and charisma to burn and the tone of the thing is far lighter than any of the previous incarnations - 'Purple Noon' ,'The American Friend', 'The Talented Mr. Ripley', 'Ripley's Game', etc.
Some early reviewers have referred to it as a 'comedy', but it's not, really. Unfortunately, the lighter tone actually hurts the film a bit, because this outing paints Mr. Ripley as less of a menace and sociopath than any of the Ripley films that have preceded it.
This interpretation apparently sprang from a comment that Ms. Highsmith made about the films adapted of her novels: She apparently felt that the films missed the humor of her character and the droll wit of her dark plots. But the humor in this effort tends to undermines the suspense.
Beside having freed Mr. Pepper from the short-haired grunt roles that he usually plays, the film really allows Alan Cumming and Claire Forlani to shine in ways that they usually aren't allowed to when they are shoe-horned into American accents. She is officially excused from having participated in 'Meet Joe Black'.
It's a good, but not great film. The delight was seeing Barry Pepper stretch-out in the kind of role he's seldom given.
I typically enjoy the Ripley films and novels for their psychopathy, but this was different enough to be enjoyable. If you come across it on cable or the Shanghai bootleg carrels try not to overlook it.
*** out of *****
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