Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rarity -- a movie ALMOST as good as the book, 2 Dec 2003
This review is from: The Talented Mr. Ripley [VHS] [1999] (VHS Tape)
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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4.2 out of 5 stars (105 customer reviews)
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