Based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley‘ is a psychological thriller directed by Anthony Minghella, who also wrote the screenplay. Miramax and Paramount Pictures released it in 1999 for the Christmas season.
Con artist and piano turner Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) runs into shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn) who is tricked into believing Tom was a classmate of his son Dickie (Jude Law) at Princeton. He pays Tom to fly to Italy to convince him to come home. When he arrives, he meets Dickie and his fiancee Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) where they devise a scheme to milk Tom’s allowance of Herbert and spend it. This allows Tom to meet Dickie’s friends Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Peter Smith-Kingsley (Jack Davenport). However, after Herbert cuts off Tom, Dickie decides to dump him, causing Ripley to murder Greenleaf and hide his body. He then takes on Dickie’s identity, traveling Europe as him and even wooing young heiress Meredith Logue (Cate Blanchett). However, Dickie’s friends, especially Marge, become suspicious of Tom and begin to suspect him of Dickie’s disappearance.
I am not familiar with the books, so I cannot comment on how this movie works as an adaptation. I will say that as a movie, I was very impressed. It has a perfect soundtrack by Gabriel Yared and the uncanny cinematography does a good job of complimenting the emotions that are being portrayed on screen.
As for the acting, Matt Damon’s performance is excellent as Tom Ripley. He captures the selfishness, the jealousy, and the cunningness of the amoral sophisticated epicurean who wants to live the high life, but also has a desire to be loved. Likewise, Jude Law is enthralling as the selfish, spoiled brat Dickie Greenleaf, who sees people as only playthings before disregarding. Their relationship had several romantic overtones, which did confuse me because Tom seemed straight, but perhaps a con artist like him can make himself to be whatever he needs at any given moment.
Normally, I do not like movies were the “villain” is the main character as directors can often portray their lifestyle as glamorous. However, they did not do this with Tom Ripley. While he is portrayed somewhat sympathetically, the life he leads is one of paranoia and even with sometimes instant gratification, he is constantly looking over his shoulder wondering if he would get caught in his schemes. I found that portrayed very well in this feature.
Bottom line, The Talented Mr. Ripley is an engaging and entertaining film that has a dynamic antagonist in Tom Ripley as its center. With high-quality performances from the cast and a superb story, the movie is not for the faint of heart but is a good piece of cinema.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Brief nudity, Violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: Who are you? Huh? Some third class mooch? Who are you? Who are you to say anything to me? I really, really don’t want to be on this boat with you right now. I can’t move without you moving. Gives me the creeps. YOU give me the creeps!
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.