I know that I'm probably swimming against the critical tide when I write this, but am I the only one who thought this movie was a tad, well, derivative? Not to mention predictable?
Picture this. Its 1962, and in wide screen, stark black-and-white, we have an ageing Bette Davis - or better yet Lana Turner - acting out some potboiler about counterfeit artists and murder and mistaken identities. For preference there are two Lanas, one good and one bad. Its a little hard to tell them apart but that's not the point. When good Lana knocks off bad Lana and assumes her identity, pausing only long enough to bump off anyone who's caught wind of the deception (or seems likely to)we're in tacky movie heaven. Add to the broth Saul Bass credits, lots and lots of glam outfits and some Continental scenery and what you have may not be art but its pretty darned watchable.
Now, substitute Matt Damon and Jude Law for Lana Marks I and II. Put it in colour, because the sixties are over, sloooooooow down the Saul Bass credits and throw in Gwyneth Paltrow - who would have been Sandra Dee in the earlier version - and you pretty much have "The Talented Mr. Ripley."
"You can be very boring" snips Jude Law to Matt Damon at the point where this movie, after reels of padding, finally kicks into gear. He should talk. Law never really does more than scratch the surface of a woefully underwritten part. In the best Lana Turner tradition the character of Dickie is mostly defined by his wardrobe. We know he's a swinger because he wears cool clothes, a stupid hat and he doesn't bother to co-ordinate his colours. And he listens to Chet Baker. Otherwise what we know of his character we know because all the other characters have told us.
And told us and told us! My these people can talk, and exclusively (and endlessly) about each other. Damon is admittedly twenty times the actor than Lana Turner ever was, but he completely lacks the one thing that stars of that calibre could bring to the part - charisma. Which is what it badly needs. Cate Blanchett is on hand to look dorky and to blow the cover in the most predictable denoument imaginable.
And that leaves Gwyneth Paltrow, shedding enough tears to flood the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, as the angst ridden girlfriend. Boy she's annoying!
Not that this is a bad film. Well it is, but in the time honoured overblown melodramatic style that have made actors and producers rich for years. Its a potboiler, and an entertaining one. And at its best its tons of fun. I just happen to think that "Dead Ringer" and "Portrait in Black" were better, because they never attempted to hide their silliness.
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