The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a film with enough plot twists, red herrings and suspense to keep you riveted to your seat

Over the past few decades I must have seen thousands of films. As such, I have become a bit jaded by most thrillers. They are usually predicable, mundane and not up to the level of classics such as Hitchcock. That view changed radically when I viewed ‘ the Talented Mr. Ripley ’. Here is a film with enough plot twists, red herrings and suspense to keep you riveted to your seat.

The Talented Mr. Ripley follows Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), a mild sort of a guy working as a washroom attendant that takes a gig playing piano to help an injured friend. For the job he borrows his friend’s Princeton jacket and that innocent event opens this tale. A man at the reception where Tom is playing notices the jacket and Tom pretends to know the man’s son. The man hires Tom to go to Italy to convince his wayward son to return to America. Tom agrees and off he goes, first class. Once there Tom plots to ‘accidentally’ met the son, Dicky (Jude Law). Dicky is living with his girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the three soon become fast friends. Tom begins to live the good life thanks to the money Dicky provides. Tom begins to fall in love. Not with the obvious Marge but rather with Dicky! When Dicky tires of Tom, Tom sees his new found world about to collapse. He winds up killing Dicky and assumes his identity. The rest of the film is a cat and mouse game well played where Tom must live two lives and is eventually accused of killing a friend of theirs. Well, Tom did kill him but Tom/Dicky is the one accused. Confused? Well, the way the story is presented you will not be after seeing The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The acting here is incredible. If 1999 was not such and unusually strong year for films this movie would have garnered some of the top Oscar prizes. Matt Damon is at his best ever here. He is more into the role in Ripley than he was in Good Will Hunting. At times his facial expressions are priceless, often reminding me of another great 1999 dual identity movie Boys Don’t Cry. Damon looks just like Swank in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Damon carries the role with an ease not often found in such a young actor. He brings his character to life in an eerie way. He switches between Tom and Dicky like most of us change a shirt. Jude Law is perhaps one of the more talented new actors on the scene. Like his roles in Gattaca and eXistenZ he can play a character to the hilt without danger of going overboard. Gwyneth Paltrow as the girlfriend has the weakest role but makes the most out of it. She just looks like she is born to money (since she was) and wears the class of the role with ease.

The director, Anthony Minghella, best know for his tour de force The English Patient, once again scores a direct hit. He keeps the mood under tight control with an excellent 1950’s jazz score. The beautiful backdrop of Italy adds to the film but never detracts from it. Minghella unfolds the story with master class direction. Add to this the commentary that takes you behind his though process and you have a film that you will watch time and time again. He has brought back to film a new golden age.

The Talented Mr. Ripley disc is mastered to perfection. The Dolby 5.1 audio track fills the room. The ambient sounds of Italy are captured so realistically that you will be transported there. The jazz score enfolds you at always the right moment. The Video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The videos remains crisp and clear even between scenes that alternate dark and light. Don’t overlook The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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