The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella – 1999) A

I was looking through Netflix for a movie with the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman and this popped up. He is not the leading man here but as always, even in the small roles he does a fantastic job and steals every scene. As for this film, well I think it’s a little masterpiece. I’ve seen it years before and I just do not think I appreciated it at the time. It’s well executed and beautifully shot, much like a piece of excellent jazz or a fine opera. It tells the story of Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), the poor young man who by a coincidence of sorts gets to befriend the rich heir Dickie Greenleaf in 1950s Italy where the film is set. Ripley discovers that he loves the lavish lifestyle of this playboy and like a spider (or maybe a chameleon is more apt) starts moving into his life the whole time getting by with a mix of deception, fake geniality and good luck. The story twists and turns as Ripley uses his talent for deception and mimicry to subtly build a lavish life for himself while wrecking everyone else’s.
Jude Law plays Dickey and Gwenyth Paltrow his girlfriend. She initially trusts Tom and then slowly turns against him as her instincts tell her there is something not right with him. Both actors do a great job here as does Damon. It is a movie that jumps across Italy from the south to San Remo, Venice and Rome. The direction is solid, the movie looks amazing and the camera work is masterful. It succeeds in making us at times sorry for Ripley while repulsed and creeped out by him. He is a creature who epitomizes selfishness while showing the world the facade of the sweet down trodden kid from New York.

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