Tagline: How far would you go to become someone else?
Let me start off by saying, this is my favourite movie. I love everything about it. It has all the elements of what constitutes a good film to me.
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, which, incidentally, I’ve read, The Talented Mr Ripley is in the unusual position of bettering the book. Most book adaptations are not as good or just as good.
I still clearly remember watching The Talented Mr Ripley at the cinema, back in 1999, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the film, specifically the ending when I left. A good film has you thinking about it afterwards.
Set in the late 1950’s, billionaire, Greenleaf, approaches Tom Ripley at a social event in New York. He is under the impression that Tom went to Princeton with his son, Dickie, as Tom is wearing a Princeton blazer (which he borrowed). Tom does not correct this assumption and Mr Greenleaf proposes to Tom that for $1,000, Tom goes to Italy to find Dickie and bring him back to America. Mr Greenleaf is sick of funding Dickie’s playboy lifestyle and wants him to work in the family shipping business.
Tom, although poor and working as a bathroom attendant, is clearly intelligent and cultured. He jumps at the chance and sees a way of bettering himself and his life.
When Tom arrives in Mongibello (fictional town, in real life, it is Ischia), where Dickie is living. You can feel his thoughts and emotions as he takes in the beauty surrounding him. To anybody who has visited, or is living in Italy, it truely does this.
Dickie, when we meet him, is an arrogant, over-indulged, spoilt and selfish playboy who does not appreciate his lifestyle. It makes it very easy to be on the side of Tom after the future events of the film.
Marge Sherwood, Dickie’s fiancee, played by Gywneth Paltrow, is a more sympathetic character. She is perfect in this role. She looks and plays the part of Marge like a latter day Grace Kelly and her wardrobe is to die for.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (a sad loss to the movie industry, RiP), shines brightly in his small, but important role of the odious Freddie Miles, Dickie’s best friend.
Cate Blanchett’s character, Meredith Logue, is not in the book. Anthony Mingella wanted Cate in the movie so the part was written in especially for her. She makes Meredith very vulnerable and likeable and the character adds a special something, rather than being there for the sake of it.
The locations, music (I have the soundtrack) and costumes are perfection. I really believe the cast would have happily acted in this film for free.
Back to the plot, without ruining it for newbies. Everything is shiny, new, romantic and wonderful to Tom when he arrives in this world. Tom is desperate to shed his old life and fit in, instead of being on the outside, looking in. Then the ugly side of Dickie’s character and the consequences of his playboy actions are shown. Things descend into chaos from one moment of anger. Tom finds himself in a situation where he is able to steal Dickie’s identity.
If I say too much more, I really will spoil this film for you. It is a credit to Matt Damon’s acting that he manages to bring the audience on side. Jude Law was born to play the role of Dickie. I have not seen him excel in any other movie quite so well and he won a BAFTA, deservedly.
This film is for lovers of Italy, thrillers, great acting and stunning cinematogrophy. Anthony Minghella lovingly shows Rome, Venice and Southern Italy in a wonderful light. If you have never been to Italy, you will want to go after viewing this.
Matt Damon learned to play the piano and Jude Law learned to play the saxophone for their respective characters
Leonardo di Caprio was considered for the part of Tom Ripley. He is probably the only other actor I can think of in the role, other than Matt Damon. Christian Bale and Tom Cruise were also considered!
Images: courtesy of IMDb