The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

I read Greg Sestero's The Disaster Artist earlier this year and he did mention The Talented Mr. Ripley several times. I had never heard of it before but it stars Matt Damon, or Mark Damon as Tommy Wiseau misheard, so I thought I'd give it a chance. Even though I'm not a fan of Damon at all. 

New York, 1950s. Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is working as a lavatory attendant when he borrows a Princeton jacket to play the piano. He ends up pretending to know wealthy Mr. Greenleaf's (James Robhorn) son, Dickie (Jude Law), and he is soon offered one thousand dollars to go to Italy and convince Dickie to return home. But when he gets there, he attaches to Dickie and his girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) and things get out of control pretty soon.

Just in case you haven't figured it out yourself, the plot is absolute nonsense from start to finish. It's not clever, it has many plot holes, some subplots that don't make a lot of sense and it unfolds in a quite predictable way. And I'm not saying this because I read it in Sestero's book. To be honest, it's been so long since I read it, I forgot everything I knew about The Talented Mr. Ripley's plot.

That being said, the film still managed to grab my attention. How did that happen? Simply because this is one of those movies that, rather than relying on a solid plot, rely on its characters, and Tom Ripley is a hell of a character. He is amoral, he lies and deceives all the time --his talents, after all, are lying, impressions and forgery. And boy if he is pathetic. Pathetic doesn't even come close to describe him. And yet he is so fascinating, so interesting, he keeps you glued to the screen. But that's not all. In spite of him having Matt Damon's face and the fact that he is such a horrible person, at the end you'll find yourself sympathizing with him. I guess I should give some of the credits to Damon too. He embodies the character's goofiness and geekiness very well and conveys the desperation of the character equally well.

Paramount Pictures, Miramax Films
The supporting characters are just as interesting and well-performed. Dickie is nothing more than a rich, spoiled, vain and cruel young man, but Jude Law's performance makes him quite remarkable. Marge is an intelligent woman who chooses to not see what's happening right in front of her. She is a bit clich├ęd as she is the typical woman who knows something shady is going on and becomes emotionally distressed because of it but nobody believes her mainly because she is a woman. Paltrow's performance though is good and makes you forget about those flaws. Among the many other supporting characters, there's Philip Seymour Hoffman's Freddie Miles. He's not on screen for a very long time and he is rather annoying, but because of Hoffman, he leaves an indelible impression.

At last, there are a brilliant musical score and terrific costumes, and the beautiful Italian scenery that makes The Talented Mr. Ripley even more pleasant to watch.

6 comments :

  1. I've only seen this movie once and it was so long ago I barely remember what happened. I'd probably watch it again.

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    1. I was a little worried about the running time but the movie was so interesting I didn't feel it.

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  2. I still haven't seen this film though I did see another adaptation of the story in Purple Noon from the early 1960s starring Alain Delon which is truly a gorgeous film.

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    1. I've heard it's good. It's already on my watchlist and I hope I get to see it soon.

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  3. This is a film that is difficult because of the main character but yet you are glued to the screen and you realize that you hope he won’t get caught which makes you guilty as well. I have to say Jude Law got raves but I didn’t think it was that great.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this. Sorry you didn't like Law's performance as much as I did.

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