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4.3 out of 5 stars147
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2003
I think most people would agree that MOST movies-made-from-books don't even come close to the books themselves. Orders of events are changed, minor characters are deleted, even entire sections of the plots are left out for "artistic reasons" (or simply because it costs too much to include them in the film). If you're lucky, you see the movie and THEN read the book; otherwise, you're left utterly disappointed.
Well, I read "The Talented Mr. Ripley" before seeing it on video. And I was hesitant about seeing the movie, as the book was incredibly rich and very deep, especially in character development. I had huge doubts that the movie could do the book justice. But to my very pleasant surprise, they seemed to have pulled it off somehow.
This movie is actually almost as good as the book -- amazing!!
Matt Damon is absolutely superb as Tom Ripley. He looks like Tom, has his mannerisms, has his voice. Damon is SO successful at portraying Tom Ripley as Highsmith had written of his character in her book: A conniving, pathetic psychopath, who disgusts you but also somehow manages to make you feel sorry for him in the process. A very tough role for any actor, but Damon was excellent.
Likewise, Jude Law is wonderful at portraying the likeable extrovert Dickie Greenleaf -- a rich kid who's lazing away in Italy on Daddy's money, but who still doesn't come across as a selfish snob. Gwyneth Paltrow does a good job as hesitant Marge, who lacks self-confidence and only wants Dickie to reciprocate the devotion she has for him. My only complaint about having Paltrow in this role is that I feel she is too pretty to play Marge, as in the book Marge is a bit more homely. But still, Paltrow gets Marge's personality down pat, which is most important.
The other thing that is pulled off nicely in the movie is the adaptation of the scenery and historical era of the book. The on-location scenes in Italy are breathtaking -- makes you want to be in Italy yourself! Before seeing the movie, I was afraid that the director had chosen to modernize the story, placing it in the latter 20th century. To my surprise he didn't, but instead stayed true to the story's place in the 1950s. This allowed the movie to have that "old" feel that the book also had.
Since the book focused on the characters primarily and the plot secondarily, this movie gets four stars from me. However, I can't give a fifth star because, unfortunately, the movie lacks some very important portions of the plot, which changes the tale a bit. And considering that the book was only 290 pages to begin with, I'm not sure why the moviemakers couldn't have fit as much in as possible.
All in all, this film did what most others in its catagory can't -- do justice to the novel upon which it is based. It's a good movie by itself, but of course, I still recommend the book.
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on 31 August 2000
This is an absolutely must see film. It is haunting, and very tense. I wasn't sure that Matt Damon was the best actor for this role, but the more I've watched his performance the more I am captivated by his sociopathic portrayal of Ripley. I thought the end sequence with Peter was absolutely blood tingling - and Jack Davenport (from the BBC's This Life) adds marvellous support to a top notch cast. The extras on this DVD are incredible. Minghella's academic commentary is excellent. For example, I wasn't aware that Cate Blanchett's character wasn't in the book, so now I've got to read Patricia Highsmith's novel! And the way Minghella informs how he condensed the first 40 pages of the novel into 4 pages of script, to produce a wonderful prologue to his film, demonstrates his excellence as a screenwriter and director. The cast interviews are worth buying the DVD for alone. Overall, this is an excellent format that truly offers value for money - and Mr Ripley is one of the most haunting films I have seen for years, and can now see time and time again.
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on 16 September 2013
Nothing more really needs to be said about the film itself - it's just a beautiful piece of work. Technically, the Blu-Ray is certainly an improvement over the DVD but don't expect visual revelations. It's not a vintage film - although tries to capture that feeling - and I find the picture quality slightly disappointing. There are ways to get that old feel without compromising the definition (one good example is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which perfectly captures that old film stock look with its characteristic muted colour palette). But Ripley is just downright grainy. But don't let that detract from the main point, which shines through - it is just a wonderful movie; beautifully shot with compelling performances and it successfully (for me at least) evokes the time and places in which it is set.
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VINE VOICEon 10 March 2006
There are some differences between this film and the Patricia Highsmith novel it is based on. Some major changes to plot have been made, yet intricacy of the original is not lost...in fact the screenplay and direction succeeds in inducing a sense of almost visual dizziness at the complex double life that Tom leads and which constantly comes within a hairs breadth of unravelling. While the strengths of the film medium are exploited, its unsuprising that the shocking sense of identification with a cold blooded killer which an intimite novel can provide is somewhat missing here. In fact Mat Damon's Ripley here is less of a psychopath and more of a sad loser that somehow blunders his way into an orgy of murder. Still, the superb playing of the leads together with a truly outstanding film score might well succeed in leaving you with an unhealthily Highsmithian sense of sympathy for a killer.
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on 22 May 2007
The Talented Mr Ripley is an unusual film, an eerie tale of jealousy, violence, loneliness, and desperation. Tom Ripley is a man who has, in his own mind, no self worth, no identity, and no substance. His ideas of life and existence depend on how he is perceived by others, and when that is no longer good enough..... Matt Damon is superb as the shy, self effacing Tom Ripley, an outwardly timid, unassuming man who shows little sign of what lurks beneath his pleasant front. Jude Law is also great as the vain, fickle Dickie Greenleaf, the rich boy who befriends Tom, and Gwyneth Paltrow also shines through as the loveable Marge, Dickie's girlfriend. Fans of the Patricia Highsmith novels will not be disappointed, as Anthony Minghella has superbly crafted her excellent literary prose onto the screen. This must also be one of the most skillfully shot movies of recent times, the scenery is fantastic and seldom has Italy been portrayed as such a beautiful country. This movie is definitely worth watching. It is becoming increasingly rare for movies to evoke serious emotions within the viewer, and with The Talented Mr Ripley, there are many occasions where these such emotions are aroused. A very good film.
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**Spoiler Warning** From the opening montage of Tom Ripley in New York (expertly directed - to contain the lengthy (and largely superfluous) intro to the novel within the title sequence) to the lustrous beaches of an Italy beginning to find new resplendence from post-war decline (and later Rome, San Remo and Venice) this is a film that is glittering with the class and debauchery of the period. In this way, the depiction of Patricia Highsmith's classic psychological thriller is a fair triumph; however, the source material (as with Highsmith's other works) was about much more than trimmings.

I must first, though, pay tribute to Jude Law - in a sparkling performance - who plays the playboy son of a shipping millionaire, Dickie Greenleaf, with the kind of precision and metrosexual magnetism that I thought he would be unlikely to bring to the screen as I read the novel. His performance is (actually) so spell-binding that the film sags terribly when he departs.

It is difficult to find fault with Matt Damon's (genuine) portrayal of Tom Ripley, for (as I will mention later) he is hampered by some fairly pointless directorial focus. He manages to capture the character from an outsiders perspective (the nervous ticks, the more obvious social faults), but doesn't really get under the skin of Ripley's schizophrenic illness, as Highsmith achieves (with an unnerving accuracy) in the book. In fact, I wasn't that certain watching this whether Ripley was a psychopath or simply someone who accidently commits murder and then decides to assume their identity (this isn't any room for uncertainty in the novel...)

Gyeneth Paltrow also shines as Marge (who -- like Law's Dickie -- brings character to life as you would expect her to be). The trouble is -- unlike Law -- she is also present in the second half of the film, which is where the second major problem comes in.

Though the film largely captures the feel of the novel during the first half (largely due to Law and the fantastic sun-bleached locations) -- and you feel it might be heading towards a decent homage -- it plummets rapidly in the second half. What should have been an paranoid study of Ripley's mental decline (swinging helplessly between fits of manic exuberance and reclusion) is simply a formulaic (and fairly contrived) 90s Hollywood thriller, which bears less and less resemblance to its inspired source material.

Throughout, I was disapointed that so many small details of the plot had been altered (virtually every few seconds you think: "that wasn't in the novel!"), but later on (with new characters changing the plot significantly, and the realisation that Ripley wasn't going to be explored in anything like the depth he needed to be), I just ended up becoming annoyed (don't film a classic novel and then fool everybody into thinking you are going to actually do it justice only for it to turn into every other film halfway through -- the book didn't really fully come alive until the point where this film dies...)

I can see why people enjoy this film: it is original (compared to most "serial killer" films). It is stylishly set up and well-acted. It just isn't a patch on the novel, though, and (in pointlessly changing so much/leaving out so many important themes) doesn't even really make an effort to be (it is telling that Damon wished afterward that they could film it again using the original plot).

Watch Hitchcock's interpretation of Strangers On A Train if you want to see a better (though still not perfect) translation of Highsmith's unique paranoia on screen. Better still, just read her novels: they are light years better plotted than something like this.
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on 2 September 2005
I make no secret about being a fan of The Talented Mr Ripley, despite the fact that it would not usually constitute my usual movie fare. The reason being, that it is a labour of love on Anthony Minghella's part, and the attention to detail that is displayed counterbalances the film's deficiencies (of which there are more than a few, but not enough to knock off a star). It begins using the bare bones of Patricia Highsmith's source novel as a guide - 1950s Park Avenue gentility, the snobbery and preppiness of a young generation of Americans coming to terms with their role in the post-war world - but then veers off on its own tack, with Minghella's imagination contributing as much as Highsmith's book. Matt Damon is entirely believable as the somewhat nerdy pilgrim who gets sent on an errand to retrieve Dickie from his bolthole on the Amalfi coast, and shows an obsessiveness with his quarry (the Princeton yearbook, trying to like Jazz etc)which leaves us in no doubt that he is attempting the unthinkable - to transform himself from a workaday mooch into a member of the elite by any means necessary. Dickie, on the other hand, is just as flawed, being a narcissist who disposes of friends once they have served their purpose.

The early part of the film, where these two feed each other's insecurities and ambitions, is the most convincing; once Dickie meets his fate our anti-hero Ripley begins to flounder, as he goes about achieveing his materialistic aims of a luxurious lifestyle in Rome and the privilege that entails, but is thwarted at every step by unexpected old faces who interrupt him; Meredith Logue (Cate Blanchett) and the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman as the loathsome Freddie Miles.

Having abandoned his identity as 'Dickie', Tom goes to Venice but finds his progress impeded by the reappearance of Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow)who finds Dickie's rings in Tom's sewing kit and confronts him, leading to the only slightly unbelievable element in the film, when Ripley briefly morphs into a music-hall villain, a scene which sits uncomfortably with the persona he has built up to this point.

However, the real star of the show is the landscape.The initial preppiness of the movie gives way to a gilt-edged, mahogany-tinged image of Italy as it once was, with the marvellously haphazard way that country has of overlapping its history and its contemporary culture with ease. The film crew should be applauded for going to such lengths. This isn't a film for those lacking in a decent attention span or those who seek a righteous denouement - watch Rene Clement's excellent 1960 version Plein Soleil for a different slant on the story - but revel in the spectacle, preferably with a bottle of wine.
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on 26 November 2003
I didn't appreciate this film immediately. I needed to watch it about 3 times to realise that it is one of the best films I have ever seen (and I have seen a lot).
I can't help but feel that a film like this is lost on this generation with it's tv-induced, short attention span. This is one to sit back and let the pace take you over like other masterpieces such as "2001" and "koyaanisqatsi".
Beautifully shot scenes, brilliant acting (just look at the cast! - Philip Seymour-Hoffman, Jack Davenport, Gwyneth Paltrow ...), superb soundtrack, but most of all the incredibly deep characterisation make this film a real gem. This film is not even in the same league as Minghella's much acclaimed earlier film "The English Patient".
We are made to empathise with a serial killer and feel sad as we see his tragic life spin out of control.
A film for the more intelligent film-goer.
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on 9 August 2000
This is an extremely disturbing movie which has the power to awaken complex emotional responses painting as it does a portrait of one individuals tortured quest for a sense of love, identity and belonging, against a backdrop of social privilege, class distinction and double standards.
Try as I could, I couldn't help empathising with the 'talented' Tom Ripley - a chameleon whose cunning assumption of a false identity masks a void of emptiness, loneliness and alienation that deepens with each twist and turn of the plot.
The tone of the movie is edgy and unsettling echoing Ripley's increasing fragmentation as the desperation of his desire and obsession erupts in a series of shattering climaxes and spirals out of his control.
The final scenes haunted me long after the credits rolled - the aching image of a man trapped securely in prison of inpenetrable emotional isolation - cast adrift from any possiblity of human redemption. The idealist in me hoped for a different conclusion.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 April 2014
Be aware that the American transfer of this superb film is way superior to the British version. The print used is stunning and the clarity, colour, definition and audio quality leave the British version standing in the dark! It's not region locked either so there are no problems about playing it on a UK system !
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