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The Talented Mr. Damon...

  • Jan 14, 2000
Pros: Good acting, and outstanding scenery

Cons: Slow in places, loose ends

Based on the highly acclaimed novel by Patricia Highsmith, Matt Damon stars as the chameleon-like Tom Ripley, who is commissioned to retrieve errant playboy and self-proclaimed expatriate, Jude Law from Italy. The simple errand turns deadly as Damon develops an unhealthy obsession with the gentleman playboy expatriate and his girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow, and people start dropping like flies, as his web of deception grows thicker.

The Talented Mr. Ripley was different in many ways. For one, it is not a role you would expect Matt Damon to play. Second, he was in every take, which is unusual for a movie out of Hollywood today, that does not have action to move it along. And third, it was somewhat subdued, a thinking persons movie if you will, which is also something Hollywood does not do a lot of, opting for fast action, explosions, barely dressed woman and men, and scripts that leave you wondering where all the talent is.

So, when a movie like The Talented Mr. Ripley comes along, it is at least worth a matinee ticket to go see it. Matt Damon played his character rather subdued and mousy in my opinion. He played Tom Ripley with a quite evilness that was hard to detect and could easily be mistaken for nerdiness, or an hesitant shyness, to the casual observer. There was a hint of homosexuality in his demeanor and mannerisms but it was never consummated on screen, and I got the feeling he only used it as a means to an end, like everything else he did, or said throughout the movie.

All the critics raved about the performance of Jude Law (Dickie Greenleaf), who is English but played an American with uncanny ease. While I found his on screen presence at times intense, I found his performance only adequate; indeed he did not bowl me over. Perhaps if I had seen him in other roles, thereby giving me a yardstick from which to measure, I would have been more impressed.

Gwyneth Paltrow was in her usual role as someone’s emotional girl friend or wife (how many times have we seen her reprise this role?), but at least she is good at it, and believable to the last. Gwyneth always brings an intensity to the screen that makes it a pleasure to watch her perform; it is almost like she brings her real life insecurities onto the screen with her and allows us to share in her pain. I think her best performance to date is far and away Shakespeare in Love!

Cate Blacnchet (Elizabeth), gave a surprising performance as the American debutante infatuated with Thomas Ripley, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, was outstanding as the very annoying and boorish friend of Dickie and I almost cheered when he…well I will not give it away.

The scenery of the Italian gold coast is almost worth the price of the ticket to get in to see the movie if you are a travel buff, and if you are an architecture buff, well, be-still my heart!

In three words: See the movie, but go to the matinee! Opps that was 7 words.


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More The Talented Mr. Ripley reviews
review by . March 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Minghella gives us the sad boy who wets his pants, not the charming snake that kills
Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley suffers badly from that all-too-common condition, auteur's bloat. It's not just that the young, charming, amoral and murderous Tom Ripley has been turned into a corn-fed young man with tragic flaws. That wouldn't necessarily be a problem. Although those who love Patricia Highsmith's unadulterated protagonist might fuss, changing things is inherent in bringing books to movies. A different take on a character can be interesting. The problem …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2010
Matt Damon demonstrates his acting ability in this movie. I didn't like his role at all but he certainly pulled it off as one fine actor!
review by . June 30, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
The Talented Mr. Ripley reminded me of nothing quite so much as Ridley Scott's Hannibal. That in itself is no bad thing, for Hannibal is a terrific piece of cinema, and in any case The Talented Mr. Ripley predates Hannibal by a couple of years. It is certainly true that Hannibal borrows much from Mr. Ripley in terms of style - and for that matter, a number of the set pieces. The Opera scene; the coffee emporia, the perfume; the high-end dolce vita, counterpointed against the subject's grisly deeds …
review by . March 16, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
Unlike most critics and many people, I did not like Anthony Minguella's THE ENGLISH PATIENT. I admit that many of the visuals in that film were stunning. However, I was not at all impressed by the story and to be honest the acting wasn't all that great (Miramax has often won awards not because of talent or performance, but because they have an incredibly huge checkbook thanks to the Mouse). From the previews, I actually thought I might enjoy RIPLEY. The visuals looked once again stunning, the lead …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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"I feel like I've been handed a new life," says Tom Ripley at a crucial turning point of this well-cast, stylishly crafted psychological thriller. And indeed he has, because the devious, impoverished Ripley (played with subtle depth by Matt Damon) has just traded his own identity for that of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), the playboy heir to a shipping fortune who has become Ripley's model for a life worth living. Having been sent by Dickie's father to retrieve the errant son from Italy, Ripley has smoothly ingratiated himself with Dickey and his lovely, unsuspecting fiancée, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). In due course, the sheer evil of Ripley's amoral scheme will be revealed.

Superbly adapted from the acclaimed novel by Patricia Highsmith (also the basis of the acclaimed French version, Purple Noon), The Talented Mr. Ripley is writer-director Anthony Minghella's impressive follow-up to his Oscar-winning triumph The English Patient. Re-creating late-1950s Italy in exacting detail, the film captures the sensuousness of la dolce vita while suspensefully developing the fracturing of Ripley's mind as his crimes grow increasingly desperate. And where Hitchcock was necessarily discreet with the homosexual subtext of Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, Minghella brings it out of the closet, increasing the dramatic tension and complexity of Ripley's psychological breakdown. Phillip Seymour Hoffman ...

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