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The Talented Mr. Ripley

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley

Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow
Director: Anthony Minghella
Rated: R
RunTime: 139 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Jack Davenport, Caterina Deregibus, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Rebhorn

Review by AlexI
4 stars out of 4

After the passionate and sensually seductive "The English Patient", everyone were waiting in anticipation for director Anthony Minghella's next film. And here it is. A sophisticated and brilliantly creepy film experience that will mesmerize and shock you to the last frame. This is as far as psychological thrillers go. Hichock's "Psycho", Kubrick's "The Shining", Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs" and Fincher's "The Game" can be compared to this spine-chilling masterpiece. Minghella offers you the guilty seasonal pleasure of pure evil in its most luxuriant form.

The film is based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 cult novel with the same title. Set in the mid-50s, the story begins in an exquisite garden party, where Tom Ripley (Matt Damon ) is playig the piano for the cream of aristocracy. When finished, he is stopped by a wealthy businessman that mistakes him for being a friend to his son, Dickie (Jude Law). Tom is then offered $1000 for going to Italy and bring his irresponsible son back from his dream world to his father and the real life. Tom, pretending to know Dickie, agrees. It is here we start suspecting that Tom is more than a good looking pianist. He is starting to prepare for his trip, collecting all information about Dickie, including his taste for music. In Italy, Tom is instantly liked by Dickie and Dickie's cultured fiancé, Marge (Gwynyth Paltrow ), pretending to love jazz and having the same interests, while soaking into luxury. Here, the audience and Dickie is about to discover that there is a lot hiding under Tom's mask of innocence. He is a man of many talents, including lies, forgery and such accurate impersonations of different people, their voices and behavior, that hair will rice on your heads. His solitary life makes him vulnerable and he is reaching for attention and love. This is how it begins -- as a story of possession. Tom wants Dickie. He wants to be the center of Dickie's world and, because he is a new refreshment in Dickies privileged life, he is. At this time Minghella, his cast, crew and audience are taking a wonderful vacation. You can almost feel the fresh ocean breeze and gentle sun. You can relax in the lush vineyards with Dickie, Marge and Tom, while enjoying the intoxicating blend of jazz, suntan lotion and gin-and-tonic-on-the-rocks. This is heaven on earth. Seductive, fresh. You never want to leave. But Dickie bores easily, and when his old-time pal named Freddie (Philip Seymour Hoffman ) shows up, Tom is brutally pushed into the background, with all feelings slowly cropping up. ow he wants Dickie in another way. If he can't his love, he will have Dickie's life, with all its pleasures..

Minghella is exploring the human nature, mind and soul. Like American Beauty and Eyes Wide Shut, this is a film about two worlds, two plans of existence. In one you are who you are and in another you are who you are supposed to be. One is a world of masks and illusions, another is a reality that we all hide. Tom Ripley is caught between these two worlds. He is charming, beautiful and can make anybody like, love and respect him. But behind the mask of innocence and charm, lurks another truth, that is more frightening than anyone imagines. In truth he is searching, as everyone else, for fulfillment, happiness, peace. In other words for a perfect life. His methods, however, are close to paranoia. It is a frightening story about class envy. Tom is so unsatisfied with his own life and himself, that he is willing to sacrifice his soul, his identity, his life to become someone else. He ends up in a solitary existence (portrayed in a powerful scene where he alone unpacks his Christmas presents that he has bought for himself). In numbness and emptiness. His life becomes an eternal fear and charade, as he covers up his true identity with mask after mask, until he looses it completely. In several scenes it seems that Tom is a homosexual, in others he is definitely not. This is never explained and that is the point. He becomes nothing more than a ombination of masks, under which is nothing, emptiness. Somewhere you can sense an echo of critique of the modern society, where money, status and image is everything, including fulfillment. In his bizarre and twisted search for happiness, Tom has misunderstood money for bliss. There are moments, when he dreams of giving someone the key to his dark soul, but he realizes that it is too late and that there are too many demons in his past for him to start a new. His past can not be washed away. Hurt, angry and confused, he couldn't understand where he did go wrong.

Matt Damon (Saving Private Ryan and Dogma) plays this spine-chilling chameleon with uncanny -- and quite spooky -- ease. It is frightening to see him float into different persons, copying their voices and personalities. This talented young actor is a joy to behold and should get a nomination at this years Academy Awards. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Tom Ripley become a recurring antihero -- like a Hannibal Lecter (returning next year in "Hannibal"). Equally magnificent is the surprisingly fascinating performance of Jude Law ("Gattaca", eXistenZ) as the sharp, fresh young Casanova, reminding about Sonny from the "Godfather". Gwynlyth Paltrow ("Sliding Doors" and Shakespeare in Love) is impressive as always as the smart, good-hearted Marge and Cate Blanchet (Elizabeth) is fabulous as the elegant, sophisticated beauty that falls under Tom's spells, naively believing his lies. Another interesting performance is provided by Hoffman ("Boogie Nights" and Magnolia). Speaking in a lockjaw tone, he is amusing as the local "provider" of earthly pleasures. The supporting cast is equally convincing.

This film is so beautifully shaped, that there are not enough words to describe its perfection. The elegant cinematography, rich art direction, precise editing and heavenly music (Gabriel Yared) combine in a colorful blend that will electrify you from the first to the last frame. And yet, it is not the visual aspect that makes this a powerful and memorable experience. It is the intellect and sophistication of the plot and the magnificence of the acting that create a frightening, thought provoking epic, that even Hitchock would not direct any better.

- "What ever you do..How ever terrible, how ever hurtful..No body thinks that they are a bad person.." - Tom Ripley, THE TALENTED MR.RIPLEY

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