The Talented Mr. Ripley

Dir: Anthony Minghella, 1999



Award winning look at a Walter Mitty-type character or boring rubbish?

Matt Damon is Tom Ripley, a virtuoso piano player and imposter of anyone he meets.

Ripley is approached by shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf to go to Italy and bring his son, Dickie (Jude Law), back. He agrees to do so under the pretence that he was very good friends with Dickie at an elite University.

Ripley finds him on a beach with his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Tom eases his way into Dickie’s life, infatuated with his good looks and charisma.

Dickie becomes aware of Tom’s infatuation with him and tells him that they need to stop seeing each other for a while

After a confrontation, Ripley murders Dickie.

Ripley then proceeds to lie and deceive his way across Italy, posing as both Tom and Dickie.

I’ve made the synopsis sound more exciting than it actually is.

To be fair, the plot isn’t the problem. It’s got real potential to be a good psychological thriller.

It’s the execution that’s the problem.

Minghella adapted the film from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel as well as directing it.

Having never read the book, I can’t say whether it’s any better or worse, but the late director churns the film out at such a slow pace ennui sets in very early.

None of the actors are particularly up to scratch. As the lead, Damon should be exhibiting a strong performance but, here, it’s lightweight as if he doesn’t really care.

Paltrow does her usual droopy eyed, appear like I’ve been crying since the day I was born look.

The only real actor worthy of any note is Jude Law. Law has that smarmy, cocky look about him even when he’s not acting so, in that respect, fits the character perfectly.

Cate Blanchett is very underused as Damon’s almost girlfriend. A redundant character.

Finally, we have Jack Davenport as Ripley’s soon to be lover. Posh and British, Davenport elicits the same irritating character that he always does, whether it’s Coupling, This Life or Pirates of the Caribbean. 

At nearly two and a half hours, The Talented Mr. Ripley is just boredom. It’s so slow. There is nothing to hold your attention.

Characters we don’t care about, doing things we could care even less for does not make a good film.

A missed opportunity.


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