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The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, more...
Director: Anthony Minghella
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Paramount
Genre: Drama, Suspense/Thriller, Crime
Running Time: 138 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

After the Oscar-winning The English Patient, writer/director Anthony Minghella attempted another tricky literary adaptation with The Talented Mr. Ripley, which features heartthrob Matt Damon cast against type as a psychopathic bisexual murderer. Tom Ripley (Damon) is a bright and charismatic sociopath who makes his way in mid-'50s New York City as a men's room attendant and sometimes pianist, though his real skill is in impersonating other people, forging handwriting, and running second-rate scams. After being mistaken for a Princeton student, Tom meets the shipping tycoon father of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), who has traveled to the coast of Italy, where he's living a carefree life with his father's money and his beautiful girlfriend, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). Dickie's father will pay Ripley 1,000 dollars plus his expenses if he can persuade Dickie to return to America. As Ripley and Dickie become friends, Tom finds himself both attracted to Dickie and envious of his life of pleasure. In time, he decides that he would rather be Dickie Greenleaf than Tom Ripley, so rather than go back to his life of poverty, Ripley impulsively murders Dickie and assumes his identity. The Talented Mr. Ripley was based on the first of a series of novels featuring Tom Ripley written by Patricia Highsmith; the story was previously filmed in 1960 as Purple Noon, with Alain Delon as Ripley. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

While you're at it, you should probably see the original screen adaptation of Highsmith's novel -- PURPLE NOON. Matt Damon or Alain Delon? No contest.

GreenCine Member Reviews

The Untalented Mr. Damon by DSchirmer September 24, 2006 - 1:42 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
My advice: Skip this movie and rent Purple Noon instead. It's half as long and twice as good and Alain Delon blows Matt Damon out of the water.

brilliant by alexjb May 2, 2006 - 10:53 PM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
i'm really surprised noone has reviewed this yet.

i've watched this film many times and it's brilliant.

the score rocks - it creates the mood, complements it, while matching its complexity. music smoothes many of the scene transitions, and includes great classical pieces as well as classic jazz bits- representing the two male leads, Tom and Dickie.

the cinematography is just as well architected - European locations are highlighted, but don't detract from the plot, and the framing of each scene reinforces the themes; there's very little that feels accidental.

the writing and the acting, tho, are what make this really work. jude law plays the perfect spoiled rich boy, and gwyneth and cate are lovely and supportive, but matt damon has a huge challenge in portraying the incredibly complex Tom Ripley. swinging from earnest to sinister and calculating, confused to confident, damon balances it by subtle changes in body language, voice, eyes, everything. in some scenes, he's acting someone who's acting, which has it's own complexity. plus, he actually does a singing impersonation of Chet Baker doing My Fnuny Valentine!

from a storytelling perspective, one of the interesting ways that this diverges from the book is that the viewer really sympathizes with Ripley, despite the fact that he's shown lying within the first 5 minutes! he even claims his talents - lying, forging signatures and impersonating people, and we still somehow want him to come out on top.

the director's commentary is somewhat interesting, providing some insight into what the director was after, and there are a bevy of Hollywood extras on the disc - interviews and behind the scenes crap that don't add much value. but don't overlook this just because it's hollywood - the plot is tight and the acting is top notch.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.37)
394 Votes
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