The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) Poster

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The Purple Noon of Anthony Minghella
marcosaguado2 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
As a huge fan of Rene Clement's "Purple Noon" I came to Minghella's version of Patricia Highsmith's story with suspicion and an irrational predisposition to dismiss it. Well, I was wrong. The talented Mr. Minghella perpetrated a magic trick. The film stands on its own as an entertaining, creepy, thoughtful, beautiful to look at piece of film-making. Jude Law throw us for six, we're not suppose to feel attracted to the selfish Dickie Greenleaf, but we do. His scrumptious performance is alluring, seductive. He is a scene stealer of major proportions. In the original, Maurice Ronnet's oily Dickie Greenleaf was a perfect lamb to the slaughter. We don't mourn his death and want the murderous Ripley, as played by Alain Delon, to get away with it. Here, when Jude Law is on the screen that's what we're looking at. We're prepared to forgive him anything and everything. I did believed in Gwyneth Paltrow's qualm, totally. In the original, Marie Laforet played it as a tenuous, unclear little excuse. Gwyneth Paltrow gives us a multi dimensional character and we go through her torment every step of the way. That, presumably, is merit in great part of Minghella's superb screenplay. Other joys are Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman. On the minus side Matt Damon couldn't make me forget Alain Delon. His Ripley is a better written character than Delon's and his performance is top notch, but Delon was breathtaking on the screen. I think than Anthony Minghella was more interested in the inner workings of Ripley's mind that in the pyrotechnics of a implausible plot. Good. The semi confession of Matt Damon about a basement full of secret truths tells us about his pain about his fear. Delon's Ripley is amoral to the hilt. The murder of Dickie in the original is terrifying. It takes forever. As well as the getting rid of Freddy's body. Minghella never show us how Ripley managed to bring a dead body down the stairs. Clement spends a great deal of time with it. Making it enormously suspenseful. But, as I mentioned before we did care about Delon and, maybe, Minghella new that whether Damon got caught or not wasn't that important. All in all I liked the film very much and the biggest lesson from a film fanatic's point of view is: you don't kill your Jude Law half way through a film unless you leave us in the hands of someone who will make us forget him. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, remember that?
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Dark And Gorgeous
littlemartinarocena10 October 2007
Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley gets a deluxe reincarnation here, merit of the talented Mr. Minghella. A sensational script adaptation, stunning Italian locations and an extraordinary supporting cast. Tom Ripley saw the light before, most memorably with the face of Alain Delon in another beautiful outing by the underrated Rene Clement. This time, the winning feature is the superbly tailored script that gets inside the heads of the characters giving us a full panoramic view of their privileges as well as their desolation. Tom Ripley, the amoral, becomes the tortured immoral here. Anthony Minghella gives him a conscience, a self-awareness giving the tale an extra chilling touch. Matt Damon's natural dullness works wonders here. This may be his best performance to date. But it is the supporting cast that makes "The Talented Mr. Ripley" fly so high. Jude Law as the spoiled, vain and ultimately cruel Dickie Greenlef is truly remarkable. His worthlessness, crystal clear for everyone to see, becomes irrelevant due to the astonishing charisma and oodles of sexiness that Jude Law exudes. That, in itself, makes Gwynneth Paltrow's character totally believable. She's an intelligent woman who must know Dickie for what he is but she puts that aside and we don't question it. Philip Seymour Hoffman's Freddie is a fully fleshed out character who's on the screen for a few minutes but leaves and indelible impression. Great fun to witness his two faces. Creepy and wonderful. But it is Cate Blanchett, in a creation worthy of W Somerset Maughan that becomes the icing on this scrumptious cake. I would love to see a film where her Meredith is the central character. This "Talented Mr. Ripley" cemented my film relationship with Anthony Minghella. I wait for his films with childish anticipation.
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Duality makes this film an heir to Hitchcock's classics.
nathan193 January 2000
Duality -- the ability to be one person in a certain situation, and another in another -- is the underlying and pervading theme of "The Talented Mr. Ripley." It is a theme that sparks the central conflict of the picture, that influences each of the main character's decisions and actions. Each character in the film is either pretending to be something else, or playing directly to a superficial identity. The film unravels each of the character's motivations for doing so, and in so doing strips away the layers of reality we construct for ourselves. Characters either uncover the explicit duality of their lives (Cate Blanchette's willingness to admit that she travels under another name), or have it uncovered for them (Tom Ripley). When each character is laid bare, when each character is most fully themselves, when each character stops acting and pretending, they are undone.

The film presents a main character who does his best to pursue another life -- but he cannot ultimately follow through with it. We are trapped by who we are, aren't we? Gwyneth tries to become Dickie's ideal woman, to avoid asking him to settle down, but she cannot -- she wants the home and the family. This is her undoing -- she weeps in the film, "I must have pressured him". Dickie can't escape the fact that he loves the nightlife -- that he strays, that his attention only lasts as long as the diversion. He says he will marry Gwyneth, but we know that his eye can never stop roaming. This is his undoing. Dickie's pal -- superficially polite, while snide and arrogant at the same time -- is much smarter than he appears, which leads to his undoing as well. When each of the characters lets their guard down and becomes who they are, it destroys them. Each of the characters has a tragic flaw that they try to ignore, or play to, a flaw which undoes the perfect lives they all pursue.

The ironic twist is that Tom Ripley is the catalyst for all of this -- yet, his tragic flaw is that he has no flaw. While each of the main characters has an identity they are running from, Ripley HAS no identity to speak of. He starts out pretending, and he pretends through the entire film. Who IS Tom Ripley? Even Tom himself wants to know. One would think that this would enable him to become the perfect actor -- when you paint on a blank canvas, one would think you can paint anything. But even Tom, blank as he is, distills down to someone -- even if it is a blank canvas, a "real nobody." And it is not only himself he is unsure of -- it is the entire world around him. Among his first lines in the film is a line uttered while listening to a jazz record -- he mumbles to himself, "Can't tell if it's a woman or a man." It is this uncertainty that informs the world he sees, and how he relates to it. Is Tom gay or straight? Is he evil or good? Even Tom doesn't know.

The film points out that we cannot run from our own darker half. We are all tempted to become someone else -- anyone who has been made fun of in school, who has longed for the life of the rich and famous, can identify with this The enemy is not without, it is within. It is this same duality which haunted and tormented so many of Hitchock's characters, most notably (but not exclusively) Norman Bates in "Psycho." "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a worthy heir to that film classic in its ability to get the audience to sympathize and empathize with Tom. We feel his love for Dickie Greenleaf -- we feel his frustration at being shut out of his life -- we feel the awkwardness of being trapped in a situation that was never intended. As we watched Marion Crane's car pause in the swamp and waited breathlessly, perversely hoping it would sink and allow Norman's mother to get away with murder, so too we watch Tom Ripley descend into darkness, and when the cops arrive at his hotel, we wait breathlessly with Tom, hoping he will get away.

Duality is present within us all... and while we are taught "to thine own self be true," in this film it is only when we are true to ourselves, that true pain comes.
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"I'd rather be a fake somebody, than a real nobody..."
moselekm6 April 2010
I'd have to say The_Void really sums up on how amazing this film is and because I find his library of reviews so helpful, I will link them now: His review should definitely take precedence over all other Reviews for this film (and probably a lot more). I write this review for the chance that if someone liked one of my opinions, they'd come and see what I thought of this masterpiece.

I can't remember that last time I felt my heart jerked like this in some time. Well that is a lie, I do remember. The last time would have had to of been when I saw: Match Point. So let's get the 'if you liked/hated' bust out of the way and say if you liked Woody Allen's Match Point, I can't see why you wouldn't ultimately like this. Not that they're AT ALL the same, nor do I have some sort of expertise on the matter. I just know the rare feeling Match Point gave me is the same this movie gave me. It sets so many moods and it does it with such finesse you find yourself begging for more and more in a devilish fashion you'll catch yourself many times wondering why you're rooting for Mr. Ripley.

The movie is only 2 hours and 20 minutes or there abouts. But it feels like a lifetime. Not the sort of lifetime when you're waiting in the DMV. The sort of life time where you experience, learn, and think about through your life. Not to say this film is a learning experience. But it IS an experience and it will fill a hole in your film-going life for that thick-plot, character ran, and dark trenching void you may have. I can't think of a film that quite compares in sequence of events, twists, character development, character inclusion quite like this.

Every character is important, every event is important, and everything you think is pretty null and void. Or possibly that is just me.

It should be heavily noted that this film STARTS SLOW, as many have said and probably judged it that way. I'd say it picks up speed around the 15-20 minute mark and it roller coasters from there. And let me tell you, when it accelerates, it seriously doesn't know how to stop and personally, I never wanted it to stop. This is the sort of film where not even the most annoying person can scream at the film, because you're too tight lipped about everything going on and you'll most likely find yourself wanting Ripley to keep going. And when I say Ripley, I really mean the movie.

And the movie doesn't stop, it keeps going. Even after it's over, you will be doing a mental tango of all the information you have received and trying to sort out all the pieces. And trust me, there are pieces. If you go to watch this film to just watch a 90's flick, you're doing it wrong. You will probably find the movie a flop of just dark moments led by lies and deceit. (Which it really is). But to those who went to watch this film because we wanted to know why there was so much mixed hype about this 1999 film, we should have all noticed there were the smallest bits of puzzle pieces and the biggest amounts of twists that really made this film what it is.

I don't even like Matt Damon, I personally have a biased grudged towards the guy and his movies. But I'd have to say, it's tough to choose between his performances here and Good Will Hunting. He, along with the entire cast will tug at heart strings you never thought you had. There are the strings for romance, thrillers, and horror. These strings are the one's collecting dust and sometimes never see the light of day for a life time. It's rare to come across a film that seems to have everything and goes about it like it's nothing, like it doesn't even seem to care if you're watching or not, because it all is going to happen with or without you. It's truly it's own living, breathing, and dark entity.

Watch this film if you want a film that will bake in your brain for the days, weeks, maybe months to come. It's not to late to bring this movie back up into lunch-time conversation in the new century.
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Thoughtful psychological study or perversely entertaining? Your pick
SKG-229 December 1999
Patricia Highsmith's original novel is about a charming, amoral man who already has all the elements in place before he does his terrible deeds, and while Rene Clement's adaptation, PURPLE NOON(1960) doesn't show us Ripley before he came to Europe, Alain Delon certainly was all amoral charm. In his adaptation, Anthony Minghella takes on a different tack, showing us Tom Ripley before he became the Talented Mr. Ripley(just as last year's ELIZABETH showed Elizabeth before she became The Virgin Queen; by coincidence, both films star Cate Blanchett). When a filmmaker tries to add psychological depth to what is generally pulp entertainment, it doesn't always work, but Minghella has pulled it off, while keeping it entertaining.

There have been some people who think Matt Damon is too colorless here. In Clement's adaptation, that might have been true, but the point here is Ripley is SUPPOSED to be a nonentity, a blank page waiting to be filled(thus lines like "I always figured it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody," or when Dickie Greenleaf(Jude Law) tells Ripley that with his glasses on, he looks like Clark Kent) by someone like Dickie. Ripley may have been pretending from day one(which is how he gets to meet Dickie in the first place), but there was nothing sinister about it, just a bunch of little white lies. It's not till he gets entranced by the life in Italy, and Dickie's life in particular, and then finds himself shut from it, that things happen. And Damon is excellent at going through the transformation(and it's not just the glasses, as one comment suggested, it's the hair, the clothes, and the whole attitude).

Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, probably my favorite critic today, liked the film, but he thought it would have been better if Damon and Law had switched roles. Again, if Minghella was remaking Clement's version, sure, but not this way. If you want someone to be an object of desire, you better make sure they're desirable, and Law is quite good there, along with showing the layers underneath. Gwyneth Paltrow has the tougher role, because she has to be both smart and able to be fooled, but she pulls it off, especially in the scene when she tells Tom she really knows what he is. Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman are also good in small roles, James Rebhorn is dependable, and Philip Baker Hall makes a memorable cameo.

One more thing; there have also been complaints that the first half is too long, and the ending is weak. The first half not only sets up Ripley's slowly falling in love with Dickie's life(and even Dickie), but also sets up some plot points which pay off later, so it's necessary. And when Ripley finally becomes The Talented Mr. Ripley, it's unsettling and still delivers a perverse kick. As for the ending, without giving anything away, it's the only way it could end; he goes on, but at what cost? This is terrific moviemaking.
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A fine ensemble performance by a winning cast
robinsonf24 February 2000
First of all, I saw this movie twice, which is a rarety in itself these days. The actors did what all actors should do in a successful motion picture, or stage play, and that is submit their own egos to the needs of the production. Matt Damon especially surprised me with his total devotion to the part of Ripley. Jude Law, once again, proved his talents as an actor by becoming Dickie Greenleaf. Paltrow and Blanchett also totally believed in whom they were playing and brought that to the screen. While I have been told that the movie is different than the book, I applaud Mingella for his tight script and seamless direction. Yet again, we are given a prime example that when violence grows out of a strong plot we, as an audience, accept it. There was not wasted motion or emotion in this film and I cannot say enough good things about it. I am surprised that the Academy so overlooked this film. Go see it.
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A ravishing, emotionally complex, and heart-rending film of great elegance
moviebuffcole3 January 2000
Seeing this gorgeous tango between Damon and Law, I was never less than captivated and riveted. Minghella has fashioned something literate, powerful, seductive, charming, tragic, and beautiful. His casting is nearly perfect. Damon is unforgettable as an amoral but fascinating character whom we even sympathize with by film's end. Law is stunning as Dickie, the man whose life Ripley adores. Paltrow is good, though she is not given a whole lot to do. Blanchett is perfect in a small but pivotal role that only adds to her already impressive filmography. This is a near-masterpiece. Minghella's talent for visual opulence is second to none, and his work here should earn him a directing Oscar nod. The same goes for many others associated with this brilliant achievement. The ending is as unsuspected as it is inevitable, that is, sad and unsettling. In fact, the whole film underscores these emotions. Whereas Highsmith's original novel was cold and sometimes inert, the film makes Ripley much more of a living, breathing character, and as such, a great symbol of tragedy. It may be some time before I forget this intense experience. Certainly one that deserves multiple viewings. One of the best films of 1999. I think this may be one of the best pictures I have ever seen. Bravo everyone. A moving, rich knockout!
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One of the best intellectual thrillers
agrawalmannu3 October 2005
I was so fascinated by Tom Ripley's character that I watched this movie again and again. There was something about him that I felt sympathetic towards on one hand and gave me the creeps on the other. Sympathetic because in more than one ways he is like you and me. He wants to be rich, he wants approval and he is may be just an opportunist. Creepy because he latches on like a leech, he can't take rejection and though he doesn't plan but once he assumes the identity of someone else he can go to any extent to keep that. Actually one can identify with the character so much that it's almost scary to look inside your dark corners.

Matt Damon played this three-dimensional character so well that I almost became a huge fan of his. Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, whose identity Tom Ripley steals was very good as well. The movie is shot in Italy, moves at a leisurely speed and is very atmospheric. One of my all time favorite thrillers.
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Envigorating and effective masterpiece
The_Void19 December 2004
When it comes to naming the best films of the 1990's, The Talented Mr. Ripley hardly ever gets a mention. This is one of cinema's greatest mysteries; how can a film as well made, constantly intriguing and brilliantly conceived as this one constantly get passed over? And in favour of many under deserving films as well? Really strange. Almost as big a mystery as the one I've just mentioned is the web of intrigue created here. Through deep, complex characters and situations rich with double meaning, Anthony Minghella has turned Patricia Highsmith's original novel into a cinematic masterpiece. The talented Matt Damon stars as the talented man of the title that is offered $1000 to travel to Italy to try and return Dickie; the rich and spoilt son of a millionaire. What follows is a complex, disturbing and fascinating expose of a man ingratiating himself into the lives of Dickie, his girlfriend Marge and high society on the whole...

The main reason why The Talented Mr. Ripley works so well is that it's central characters are deep labyrinths that beg to explored and analysed. Every scene is rich with double meaning and character interactions that exist under the surface of the drama we are seeing on screen. The character of Tom Ripley is a true masterpiece of characterisation indeed. This sociopath, that would rather be "a pretend somebody than a real nobody" is a myriad of contradictions and muddled personalities. His actions are always amoral and through his lies and deception, it is obvious that he doesn't care at all for anyone around him. However, despite this; we are still able to feel for him through his tribulations. The story is told in such a way that it is difficult to feel for any of the other characters and all of our sympathies lie with the talented Tom Ripley. This puts the audience in a strange situation, as we're used to hating the antagonist and feeling for the protagonist, but this film turns that on it's head, and to great effect.

The film is helped implicitly by the fact that it's one of the most professionally made films ever to make it onto the screen. Every scene, every action, every line uttered is done with the greatest assurance and nothing at all in the film appears to be there by accident or out of place. The way that the characters interact with each other and their surroundings is always believable and we never question anything that is shown on screen. Anthony Minghella's direction is more than solid, and this is helped by the stunning photography, courtesy of 1950's Italy. Many a film has benefited from Italy's landscape, and this is one of them. This is all great, but it's the performances that put the final finishing touch on this amazing masterclass of film-making. As mentioned, the talented Mr Damon takes the lead role and completely makes it his own. He often gets coupled with his friend, Ben Afleck, when it comes to acting; but this is very unfair as Damon is one of today's brightest stars. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow make up the other two leads. I'm not the biggest fan of either of these two stars, but both, like Damon, give performances here that will always be associated with their personalities. Cate Blanchett has a small role, but the real plaudits for the smaller performances go to the brilliant Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who steals every scene he's in.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is one stunning piece of film. Ignore the people that don't consider this one of the 1990's greatest achievements; they are wrong. The film is a masterpiece of tense situations, great characterisation and professional film-making. And I refuse to hear otherwise.
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Matt Damon made a good choice in making this film!
frantik2205 January 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It can definitely be considered an "intelligent" thriller. And I think that Matt Damon made a good choice choosing this role. He gets to explore the darker side of a character, a change for him, and he does so very well! On the outside he appears so wholesome and harmless but if you watch his eyes, they can give you a chill. And I must say that Jude Law, an actor I had not seen much of before I saw this film, also gave a great performance. He has great charm and you can almost understand why "Mr. Ripley" would go to such great lengths to possess his life. Damon did a good job of conveying how desperate he was to be someone with a life worth coveting. Don't be put off by how long it is, it is worth the watch.
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A splendid story with a twisted plot.
sknerger21 August 2001
I'll admit that I rented "The Talented Mr. Ripley" without the slightest clue about what the story entailed. However, this caused no problem as I soon became involved in the twisted and rather bizarre plot; I was immediately interested in the movie as it was unique and unusual right from the start.

Matt Damon portrays the mysterious Mr. Ripley, who, more or less, remains a mystery throughout the film. I was intrigued at how, when you first see him on screen, you are given the impression that he is nothing more than a shy, innocent, and intellectual young man who pretty much keeps to himself. However, this image is only visable for the first five minutes or so, and is virtually shattered once he accepts the offer to go to Italy in search of Mr. Greenleaf's son, Dickie. I was fascinated at how rapidly his personality altered, and suddenly I understood that he was rather odd, as he deceived Mr. Greenleaf in the first place by wearing a Princeton jacket and pretending that he knew Dickie. Now, I haven't explained this entirely, as those of you who have seen this film know, as I am not writing this to create a summary of the plot, but rather to give my comments. Basically, Mr. Greenleaf saw Ripley playing the piano at a wedding wearing a Princeton jacket, and since his son also went to Princeton, he asks Ripley if, by any chance, he knew Dickie. Of course, since Ripley never went to Princeton in the first place, he couldn't possibly have known Dickie. Despite this fact, however, Ripley says that he did know him, and that they were friends. As soon as he says this, he manages to get himself in a deep hole of trouble as Mr. Greenleaf asks him to go to Italy to try and retrieve his son, as he couldn't do it himself due to that fact that Dickie wouldn't listen to his father following a serries of arguments.

I thought that the acting was brilliant, especially that of Jude Law (Dickie) and Matt Damon. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of the film, and I felt that all the characters were believable in their own ways. I believe this to be a splendidly clever story, which is well written and directed. I thought that the music playing during most of the film was excellent as it matched the strange, eerie atmosphere of the story beautifully.

I would like to conclude this review by saying that this is a very good movie with an unusually unpredictable ending; it's nice to see a movie that doesn't finish perfectly for a change.
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Very Under-rated.
stirred_mind2 June 2000
I have seen reviews of this film and people give it 5/10 and 3/10. It is just because they couldn't understand the film. I, myself found it intriguing and my eyes were glued the the screen. The story is amazing, the direction is fabulous and the acting is excellent. The story kept my ass glued to my seat the whole time, with no intention of getting up.

In short, The Talented Mr. Ripley is the most intelligent thriller of 1999.
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The best film of 1999, possibly the 90's.
bigpappa1--213 May 2000
Matt Damon turns in one of the most effective performances I've ever seen in recent memories. He trashes his golden boy image to play a psycho, so creepy it will make your skin crawl. Every person in Hollywood after seeing this film must be scared of him. Story involves Matt Damon staring as a poor working class who borrows a Yale or was it Harvard letter jacket to play the piano at a party for some rich snobs. After it is over he finds himself being asked to go to Italy to retrieve a millionaire's son (Jude Law). Upon arrival in Italy, Damon becomes so wrapped up in the rich life style, that he kills for it. Special attention must also be payed to Law for effectively stealing every single scene he is in, even though the cast includes two Oscar winners and one Oscar nominee. And then there is the beautiful cinematography, and the brilliant music score, and the terrific costumes and locations that makes us feel like we're back in Italy in the 50's. And then there is of course the brillant direction and script. What a terrific film. My favorite film of 1999 and one of my favorite films of all time. A perfect 10 for 10. Go see this film right away.
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The Underrated Mr. Ripley
petra_ste29 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
There are thrillers I enjoy but rarely feel any desire to watch again; however, I find that those lighter on set-pieces but heavier on character interactions and atmosphere have a better replay value for me.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a perfect example. The movie takes its time in the first act, allowing us to identify with ambitious liar Tom Ripley (Matt Damon in one of his best performances) who yearns for a better life and manages to ingratiate himself with wealthy heir Dickie Greenleaf (an electric Jude Law).

Dickie is enjoying an endless vacation in Italy; Tom starts to tag along. At first the narcissistic Dickie likes the company of this nice young man who obviously idolizes him; however, Tom develops an obsession with Dickie, who decides he is fed up with him...

The movie lets us share Ripley's point of view, entangles us in his web of lies. The bond we develop with him is crucial or the rest of the film, where his deceptions take a darker turn, simply wouldn't work.

Damon and Law are great, well supported by Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jack Davenport. Minghella's direction is elegant, meticulous, crafting moments of great tension.

One of my favorite scenes is the first killing. I don't know whether it comes straight from the novel or was changed for the adaptation, but it's masterful, making use of a clever writing trick: setting a scene where you'd least expect it to take place. We are used to movie murders happening in dark, ominous locations, but this one unfolds in broad daylight on a boat rocking in the middle of a beautiful blue sea: when violence erupts, it's all the more shocking.

As a police investigation starts, Tom relies on his talent for lying and impersonating people, but there is a stark difference from the usual trope of the innocent man dragged into a crime against his will and who is just trying to survive. Tom clearly relishes the wealth and opportunities brought by his deception: he likes this game and is very good at it.

The bookend to the first murder is the ending (MAJOR SPOILERS), with the last killing in a ship's cabin. Once again Tom kills someone he loves, only this time, with cruel irony, the victim actually loves him back and the killing isn't a spur-of-the-moment reaction but deliberate, as Tom finds no other way to cover up his crimes. The Pyrrhic victory of the villanous protagonist, who has managed to fool everyone but is now broken and alone, is one of the most memorable movie endings of recent cinema.

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A solid adaptation
perica-431517 January 2019
This movie is a solid adaptation of the beginning of the Ripley universe. Jude Law is good, but Matt Damon is a bit unconvincing, as he does not come as either a sociopath or a person undergoing a transition. Not bad, but not Leonardo Di Caprio in "Catch me if you can" either. However, movie is nicely shot and the book the story is based on is great. It is just a bit off, but well worth a watch.
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Excellent thriller!
davispittman14 August 2017
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) really is one of the best crime thrillers I've ever seen. The film is set in late 1950's, it centers around Tom Ripley, a man who gets hired by Jude Law's father to go to Italy and persuade him to come back to America. When he does and gets to know him and his fiancé (Gwenyth Paltrow), things take a different turn.... The plot to this movie is very layered, and that is one of the many things that makes it great. One thing is for sure, if you like crime thrillers then you are sure to love this one. The acting is another great part about this movie. Almost all the actors were coming off of big hits when this movie came out, and every cast members great acting abilities are showcased. Matt Damon is absolutely fabulous here, it's probably the best performance I've seen him give in his career. And Paltrow's performance is very good here too... I loved her dramatic scenes, I really thought she nailed it. Jude Law and Cate Blanchett are good in their roles as well, I honesty think that Damon deserved an academy award nomination more than Law did. The writing in the movie elevates everything and really pulls it all together. Overall I 100% recommend this film this film to everyone! 10/10.
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A Plot of Greed, Adoration, Rejection... and Tragedy
drqshadow-reviews10 October 2017
A small-scale imposter / con man, making the rounds in 1950s New York, gets caught up in something much greater than his usual scam and decides to let it ride, if just to see where he winds up. In this case the answer is Italy, gorgeous vestige of the old world with just a few hints of the modern one, where he's tasked with convincing a flippant trust funder to return from a perpetual, fortune-draining holiday. That mission quickly goes by the wayside, just as soon as he realizes how much easier life is in the lap of luxury, and he merely exacerbates said money-letting as the wealthy playboy's new wingman. When things take a turn for the messy, though, his welcome worn thin and nothing to show for it but bittersweet memories, a panicked string of responses sends the entire comfortable lifestyle into a tailspin. At its root, Ripley is an example of how fear and rejection can press a normally smart, affable person over the brink into monstrosity, a surprise considering the playful tone of the first act. Matt Damon, still fresh from his breakout in 1997's Good Will Hunting, shows great versatility in the leading role (essential for such a complicated character), smoothly masking that twitch in his eye from all but the viewing audience. It's one of those films where you'll feel wrong about your rooting interest, knowing all along that the guy absolutely does not deserve a happy ending, with the final moments serving as your comeuppance.
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The Talented Mr. Damon is Great in this Tense Psychological Thriller.
Don-10222 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
There are a lot of reasons to see THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. It is not your typical, run of the mill Hollywood thriller. In fact, it is refreshingly chilling and Matt Damon turns in what is by far his best acting job to date. He is able to shed the "Will Hunting" image here with a juicy role. It is a personality twisting story unlike, say, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, which was highly conventional and more of a slasher picture. I would equate it more with Ingmar Bergman's PERSONA. The audience is never totally clear as to why "Tom Ripley" wants to consume another personality which is all the more mysterious.

Anthony Minghella, director of ENGLISH PATIENT, sets the stage in late 1950's Italy, an exotic locale which adds to the suspense. As the film progresses and it becomes more apparent there is something deeply wrong with Damon, you almost begin to root for him to get away with his malicious acts. He is so effective as the quietly psychotic Ripley because his actions do not seem planned. He just kind of takes what is not his without reason.

The beauty of Rome, Venice, and Gwyneth Paltrow tends to hide the inner turmoil going on with Damon's character and Jude Law is oblivious to it most of the time. The madness builds slowly and Law, as the target of Damon's consuming desire, realizes it too late. Law has the looks and mannerisms of a 50's matinee idol which fits perfectly within the context of the film.

Some people have said THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY is like a Hitchcock film for the 90's. I would have to agree. Damon's ability to portray a fully realized, human leach is amazing at times and the fact that I actually had some sympathy for him proves it. There are scenes of utter shock and dismay, but it is the drowning build to the inevitable murder and mayhem that grabs you.

RATING: ***1/2
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A good amoral drama
Tweekums2 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Tom Ripley is a bit of a non-entity but also a bit of a chameleon who can make people think he belongs. After the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf mistakenly thinks Tom was a friend of his son Dickie he is given a job… to go to Italy and persuade Dickie to return to New York. He quickly meets Dickie and his girlfriend Marge Sherwood and befriends them. He is honest about why he is there but makes Dickie believe that they share similar interests. Soon he is staying with Dickie and Marge while still being paid by Dickie's father. Eventually Herbert Greenleaf writes to thank Tom for his work but also to let him know it is clear that he has failed in his task and will no longer be paid. At the same time Dickie starts to get tired of Tom's presence. Tom doesn't take this well and strikes Dickie; a struggle ensues and Dickie is killed. Tom manages to hide the death and carries on his life… he also starts playing the part of Dickie; a role he enjoys. Inevitably the deception is hard to maintain; Marge wants to know what happened to Dickie and when a friend of Dickie pays a visit Tom must kill again to protect his secret… a killing the police believe Dickie may have committed.

This was a really enjoyably film; plenty of time is spent introducing the characters and by the time of Dickie's death Tom is the more sympathetic character so it is easy for the viewer to see it as self-defence and hope he gets away with it. Even when he kills again it isn't hard to still hope he gets away with it as this victim was a frightful snob who had always looked down on Tom and people like him… it is only when Marge starts to be emotionally harmed by Tom's actions that sympathy for him starts to wane. The cast does a fine job; Matt Damen is particularly good as Tom Ripley; a character who isn't naturally dynamic but can play the part when needed. Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow also impress as Dickie and Marge. The story isn't rushed but nor does it drag and once Dickie has died the tension gradually rises; there is always the possibility that Tom will be exposed, either by the police or somebody who knows Dickie, and each to it looks like he could be exposed there is the feeling that people around him are in danger. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to anybody wanting a good drama set in some beautiful Italian locations.
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An enduring, classic, gorgeous, fascinating journey
secondtake10 January 2011
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

This is a truly great film. It sweeps you into another world without you even knowing it. And this other world is so beguiling and beautiful, and brimming with such elegant treachery, you wonder if it can be true.

Luckily, in a way, it is not. It's the fictional invention of Patricia Highsmith, most famous until now for the book behind the Hitchcock movie, "Strangers on a Train." Like that movie (also utterly gripping and deceptive), this one has characters rather like you or me, or an idealized you or me (we can't all live on the coast of Italy). And someone among us is secretly sick and devious. But a first note--and this is to the lovers of other Ripley movies--Matt Damon's Ripley isn't a faithful depiction of HIghsmith's. He's less gleefully awful. And more troubled on the inside. Maybe he shouldn't have been a "Ripley" at all, but you need to think of this as a creative, and different, version of the many other Ripley characterizaions.

And by the way, this isn't a crime film. You could be just as absorbed by the plot without any murderous edges. Director Anthony Minghella goes all out with archetypally vivid, perfect, wish-you-were-there scenes and sets. An outdoor jazz club in San Remo, open courtyards of Venice, a little village perched on rocks over the Mediterranean. The music is astonishing--mostly post-war American jazz, which one older character calls "insolent noise" though we know better, but also piano quartet, opera, and choral music. The light, the fluid camera (astonishing stuff), and the whole changing mise-en-scene as the movie plummets from pure joy to anger and disbelief and personal, wrenching despair.

Then there are the three actors who make their characters fully complex and fleshed out, with contradictions and nuances. And if Gwyneth Paltrow's fresh idealizing innocence and Jude Law's pretty boy enthusiasms and airy selfishness are extraordinary, surely Matt Damon's interloping and bewildering cleverness takes the cake. He's so convincing you shake your head. The fact he didn't win an Oscar for this is surprising (he didn't even get nominated), but the performance is still there to enjoy. Law (who did get nominated) is also a joy to watch, a kind of idealized male most women would quickly give their right arm to be with.

All three are their best here. Equally amazing are the two secondary actors with huge roles, Cate Blanchett as a charming and perplexed young traveller and Philip Seymour Hoffman as an annoying but ultimately perceptive "ugly American." The five of them fit their roles together like fingers in two clenched hands. When things happen you think, yes, of course, how terrible, how perfect, even if it is, as Andrew Sarris wrote at the time, "wall to wall amorality."

Minghella, before his premature death, talked about how difficult this film was to make because of its uncompromising locations. Venice, in particular, was hell to get permission to film in, with all the open spaces he had to clear of tourists and residents, and he implied he wouldn't do it again. You get the feeling this is an exceptional film this way top to bottom. That no corners were cut, where the actors gave it something above and beyond. And where they had terrific material to start with. Minghella himself adapted Highsmith's book into a screenplay. Or I should say books--Mr. Ripley is a character in five novels, though the first is the main source here.

Is it flawless? Who's to say. Others think not--mostly because they envision Ripley differently. But don't be stuck with what the books, or earlier movies, suggest. Also, the relationship between Blanchett's insecure woman and Damon's slippery self isn't quite right, perhaps, and Hoffman's role is too spectacular to be so brief, in a way. You do also wonder at the ultimate ending, if there is enough probability to the father's conclusion, so willing to put it all, bitterly, in the past. Maybe. These are quibbles on a journey that is really engrossing and a pleasure. Let it suck you in and you'll be completely happy you're there, even through the slowest , beautiful parts.
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Read the book instead
dafishhead13 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Simply put... If you enjoyed the book or its sequels, avoid this movie at all costs. The story is basically the same, but Minghella changed the most important details and to its detriment. In the book, Ripley is a con man and sociopath whose jealousy of Dickie Greenleaf's life leads him to murder him and take on his identity. In the movie, Ripley is a poor boy who lusts after Dickie, accidentally causes his death, and happens to take on his identity. To change the motivation for the murder and to change the murder from premeditative to accidental is to completely change the nature of the title character, and in the process sever the movie's most basic and essential connection to the book upon which it is based. If Minghella disliked the book so much, he shouldn't have taken on the project in the first place. At the very least he should have changed the title and character names as was the case with "Simon Birch" which was very loosely adapted from the novel A Prayer For Owen Meany. Visually the film is beautiful. Many of the performances are good to great. Jude Law and Philip Seymour Hoffman for example are perfectly cast. Matt Damon is not. He tries, but ultimately fails. Damon is a decent enough actor with some potential, but he is way out of his depth here. The character is more complex than he is capable of playing. This wouldn't be such a problem if he weren't playing the title character. So if you like the book, avoid this faux adaptation and see "Purple Noon" instead.
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Elegant, literary thriller
Libretio23 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS

Whilst in Italy, a young American chancer (Matt Damon) assumes the identity of a wealthy playboy (Jude Law) with whom he's become emotionally obsessed, leading to murder and betrayal on a grand scale.

Elegant, literary thriller based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith (the subject of an earlier adaptation, PLEIN SOLEIL, in 1960), in which sociopathic anti-hero Tom Ripley (Damon) cheats, steals and murders his way to a position of huge good fortune, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. Set against the backdrop of tourist Italy - encompassing Rome and Venice and all points in between - Anthony Minghella's film is a compelling treat from start to finish, layering detail upon detail as Damon's friendship with Law blossoms and sours, leading to an inevitable plot twist which introduces a whole new set of complications for the central characters, rendering the audience complicit in Ripley's escalating crime wave.

Damon may seem a little too young and unworldly for such a complex character, but he judges the role with great sensitivity, especially in those scenes where (overtly or otherwise) he indicates a sexual attraction to Law which goes unreciprocated (or does it?), until the characters are driven apart by jealousy, bitterness and - ultimately - violence. His fantasies shattered by harsh reality, Damon finds solace in the arms of a mutual acquaintance (Jack Davenport), the only person capable of taking Law's place in Damon's affections, only for their chance of happiness to be snatched away by a cruel trick of fate. Terrific, Oscar-caliber support by Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Seymour Hoffman (as Law's fiancée and best friend, respectively); beautiful, classy production values throughout. Followed by RIPLEY'S GAME (2002).
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Good and bad
mydelsol78 December 2005
This movie had great cinematography, superb acting and interesting ideas, but the pacing seemed off and it dragged quit a lot in places. I loved certain parts, but the over all structure of the movie felt weak. I know this is more of a character movie but the plot had almost no momentum at all which lead to a friend I was seeing the movie with to ask me "If I go to the bathroom do you think anything might actually happen...?" While every actor did fine job, Matt Damon was particular good, I had not thought him a very good actor before this picture and he rarely lives up to his talent afterwards. I think I may watch it again and would recommend someone else watching it as it is a challenging picture.
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Good, but with flaws
Xophianic2 February 2000
I heard mixed reviews about The Talented Mr. Ripley. When I finally saw it, my review included a mixture of both kinds of reviews. I did very much enjoy the movie. I thought the acting, for one thing, was great. Jude Law and Matt Damon did the best acting jobs of all. I think the beautiful Gwenyth Paltrow did a good job too, but her character was massively underplayed. It was great to see Matt Damon playing a part like this, which is different from the part he usually plays. The scenery was also very impressive.

The ending left a lot to be desired. At first I hated it. Right now, I don't mind it but I think it could have been a little better.

The whole movie was shown through the viewpoint of Mr. Ripley. Even though he was the "bad guy" of the film, you feel bad for him because you follow him through the movie. I think it would have been better if the movie was shown by the of Paltrow's character a little more.

This movie did have flaws. The characters themselves were a bit 2-dimensional, aside from two or three of them. Although the actual ways that Ripley killed him victims and fooled everyone else was enjoyable, I think the movie would have been a little more realistic if the police were no so gullible and didn't ignore obvious clues to what Mr. Ripley did. One of the biggest things wrong with this movie was that it was too long. What bothered me the most was the homo-sexuality scattered through the film, but I was able to deal with it.

Despite these problems, I enjoyed the movie very much and would recommend for anyone, especially Matt Damon fans, to go see it.
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The Superfluous Man
pekinman14 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Anthony Minghella's adaptation of 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' possesses more depth and poses more questions than first viewings would indicate. At first viewing I was baffled by what motivated these people aside from simple selfishness on the part of the rich kids and class envy on the part of Tom Ripley. Since that first time I have thought about the various clues scattered along the way that Minghella throws out to help us along.

The most important scene in this film, I think, is when Tom (Matt Damon) and Meredith (Cate Blanchett) attend the opera in Rome. On stage is the duel scene from Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin'. Lenski, Onegin's closest friend, has offended Onegin who has challenged him to a duel. Lenski, the simple musician, sings the last bit of his aria and then the two men do their paces and Onegin shoots Lenski dead.

The key to Tom Ripley's enigmatic character and motivations in relation to the opera is; in the 19th century literature, in this case Pushkin, Onegin represented a type of man that was becoming extinct for various reasons, mostly cultural as a result of political disasters, the usual story. Onegin is what the Russians called a "lishny chelovek" or "superfluous man." A man with sensitivity and intelligence but doomed to have these qualities corrupted for want of a proper outlet in the society of his time. That is Tom Ripley.

The interesting thing is, Tom Ripley is also Lenski, the simple musician, the lover, the sentimentalist. So, the operatic scene in this film symbolizes the self-immolation of Tom Ripley in the form of Eugene Onegin, the superfluous man, killing Lenski, the simple and gifted musician. This suicide explains a lot in the context of what ultimately happens in this film. It explains why Ripley does what he does on a fundamental level.

Ripley has been left with no place to stand by the society of the plutocracy whose children, represented by Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), Marge, his fiancé (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Meredith the society girl from New York (Blanchett). All action stems from this fundamental twist in Ripley's psyche.

The first time I saw this movie I was flummoxed, but now, if I am right about the scene at the opera house, I think I understand what makes these characters tick, which makes the film all that more interesting.

There is some wonderful acting here too. Jude Law got all of the attention at the time of the release, and he is very good, but it is Matt Damon's astonishing performance as the geeky, pathetic Ripley that boggles the mind. Cate Blanchett turns what could have been a nothing, stereotyped part into a tour-de-force of subtle comedy and pathos, reminding me more than once of "Little" Edie Beale (Grey Gardens), the poor little rich girl with a heart of gold who can't find love because of the limitations placed upon her by the society in which she grew up. An intelligent young woman raised to be an empty-headed breeder.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is wonderfully repulsive as Dickie's old chum from Princeton, with his beady-eyed, nastiness towards the "leech" Ripley. Gwyneth Paltrow is very good as the author who loves Dickie and is the only one who cottons on to what has happened to him but no one believes her.

There is also sly satire at work here as well. Jude Law's character "Dickie" is a great fan of Charlie Bird.... "Dickie Bird" a Gilbert and Sullivan reference betokening the empty-headed fool dancing towards his doom to the tootling of some vapid jingle, "Poor little Dickie Bird....tit-willow tit-willow" etc.

Dickie is out of his depth when he encounters the deeply twisted Tom Ripley who has set out to destroy his own identity, annihilate his personality and will not hesitate to eliminate all who would stand in his way. In the end he takes his revenge before meeting his own doom by killing love.

This is a tragic film, beautifully done on all counts and though it seems to drag at times in the first half and has a deux ex machina ending to solve the complicated dilemma of closing the trap around Ripley, it is a first rate suspenser. Minghella does not have the Hitchcock touch but he's brought his own brand of haunting creepiness into this very fine film.

Technical aspects are outstanding, The music by Gabriel Yared is beautiful and the script one of the better ones I've encountered in a long time.
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