In late 1950s New York, Tom Ripley, a young underachiever, is sent to Italy to retrieve a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy, named Dickie Greenleaf. But when the errand fails, Ripley takes extreme measures.
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Tom Ripley - cool, urbane, wealthy, and murderous - lives in a villa in the Veneto with Luisa, his harpsichord-playing girlfriend. A former business associate from Berlin's underworld pays a call asking Ripley's help in killing a rival. Ripley - ever a student of human nature - initiates a game to turn a mild and innocent local picture framer into a hit man. The artisan, Jonathan Trevanny, who's dying of cancer, has a wife, young son, and little to leave them. If Ripley draws Jonathan into the game, can Ripley maintain control? Does it stop at one killing? What if Ripley develops a conscience? Luisa prepares for her concert. Written by
John Malkovich remarked in an interview with the BBC that before starring in this film, he came close to directing The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) and that he was in negotiations to obtain the rights to direct a remake of the first "Talented Mr Ripley" adaptation, Purple Noon (1960). See more »
When Reeves is at Ripley's house, he prepares a tray with his breakfast and walks from the kitchen into the library. In the shot before he goes through the interleading door, the only bottle on his tray is his beer. When he sits down in the library he suddenly has a bottle of HP sauce on his tray as well. See more »
You know the most interesting thing about doing something terrible? After a few days, you can't even remember it.
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Ripley's Game is the third Ripley story (by Patricia Highsmith) to be filmed, following 1960's Purple Noon (with Alain Delon as Ripley) and 1977's The American Friend (with Dennis Hopper as Ripley). Purple Noon was later remade as The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), with Matt Damon as Ripley, and here The American Friend is remade, with John Malkovich as Ripley.
In this story, Ripley's all grown up and has become quite the conniving scoundrel. Phrases like that are best at depicting the completely amoral Ripley, especially when put against a backdrop of Germany and Italy and Old Europe in general. It's not that Ripley doesn't care, it's that... well, okay, it's that Ripley doesn't care.
Ripley's pal Reeves (Ray Winstone) has a job that needs to be done, but when he asks Ripley to handle it, our resident evil-doer demurs - he has a better murderer in mind. Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott) is a framemaker whose son has leukemia. Ah, the perfect man for the job. Ripley offers Trevanny a lot of cash, drawing the innocent into his game.
The main problem with the movie is that there's no real urgency, no sense of peril. We understand from the get-go that Tom Ripley's a sociopath, but we're given no clues as to his intentions or motivations. And adding to the ennui is Malkovich himself. Ordinarily, I can't think of anyone better at playing a conniving scoundrel (see him in 1988's Dangerous Liaisons), but Malkovich is so understated in this role that often you can hardly hear what he's saying! For the lead character to be so quiet and unassuming ought to be a federal offense. What was the director thinking?
But even if the performance was stronger, the plot itself is rather pedestrian. Oh, sure, you get pretty scenery (it's well photographed), but the twists and turns are really a simple matter of connecting the dots. Almost any fool could see how this one ends.
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