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TALENTED MR RIPLEY, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is a nobody in 1950s New York, when a chance in a million puts him in contact with millionaire Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn), who commissions Tom to retrieve his playboy son, Dickie (Jude Law) from Italy, where he is frolicking with his fiancé Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). Tom takes to the task with zeal, and begins to assume Dickie's very persona, ultimately succumbing to the desire to be a fake somebody, instead of a real nobody.

"Superbly cast - and thus destined to work - The Talented Mr Ripley is a morality tale told with all the juicy elements that make a meal of a movie out of a book. Never mind that life is not as naturally fair and just (as the filmmakers believe), the film creates a world in which it is. The evocative look of the film, thanks to John Seale's cinematography and Roy Walker's production design, does much to take us for a joy ride to New York and Italy of the 1950s, when America was still dreaming some of her dreams, and Europe was recovering from some of her nightmares. Minghella's screenplay focuses on the morality of Ripley's actions, and how his actions condemn him.

To his credit, the script avoids hystrionics and allows the era to influence the characters' actions more credibly than in many period films. Whatever its relationship to the novel, the film stands on its own as a drama with an unusual tone: some have suggested this is Hitchcockian, and that the theme echoes another The Great Gatsby.

The real point is that it is a film with several layers, and the subtext is like a strung out musical chord with the colour of dread. We can tell, deep down, even as we watch the sunlight on the sunbaking bodies of Dickie and Madge, that things are not going to end well.

But on the surface, it's the good life for all, frolicks in Venice, Rome and the gorgeous Amalfi coast. Then there is a suicide; then there is a nasty argument in a boat - and Tom Ripley is suddenly not the gentle nobody and his talent on the piano is not the only singular thing about him. The other thing is that this is a studio film with shimmering looks - but a nasty aside at the American dream. And the ending? Well, let's just say that if a stereotypical American studio wanted an 'up' ending, it may well have insisted on a rewrite. But opinions will differ."
Andrew L. Urban

"One lie leads to another in the Talented Mr Ripley, an exquisite journey of ambition, deceit and style. Here lies a world where the imagination is more powerful than sanity and the other man's grass is irresistibly greener. Anthony Minghella's articulate screenplay and confident direction captures the exuberance and enthusiasm for life, just as surely as it captures the cold, endless corridors of inconsequentiality.

Being a nobody is a dread whose undesirable proportions are monumental. Star performances all round, but it's not only the cast that's superb, but Gabriel Yared's effervescent jazz score and glorious Italy is shown in her best dress by John Seale's stunning cinematography. Matt Damon is a chameleon in the evocative role of Tom Ripley.

A far departure from his previous roles, Damon gives a performance glowing with subtlety – we feel as though we can see how his character thinks. Jude Law steals our attention in a showy role that allows us to see a wide range of his capabilities. His dashing golden-boy good looks are used to great advantage; the camera loves him. Gwyneth Paltrow shines as Marge in an appealing naturalistic performance, displaying the delicacies of the human heart while Cate Blanchett once again is striking in a small but pivotal role created specially for the screen.

Directed with dramatic passion, the magnificent opera scene is haunting, highlighting the chilling nature of this tale of deception. Exploring the murky abyss of our minds, The Talented Mr Ripley is an intriguing tale. It is a story of greed and manipulation: the stepping stones to success are of the human variety. Limited only by our imagination, ambition is a state of mind. But beware, the past has a habit of catching up with us all, even if only in our subconscious."
Louise Keller

"Just over 100 years since his birth, Alfred Hitchcock's shadow lingers over Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley - but this lavish and beautiful film suffers little in the comparison. Minghella has created a thriller with the feel of To Catch a Thief but the psychological complexity of Rear Window. Indeed, its themes of yearning and individual identity echo the master's Vertigo.

Minghella weaves a web of intricate nuances and occasional fireworks which traps and entrances. The film is wonderfully shot by John Seale (would you expect any less?) capturing the style of Italy in the late '50s. And the lens work is complemented by one of the best soundtracks of the year. But the film could not succeed as it does without outstanding performances.

At the core is Matt Damon, who conveys the intricacies of Tom Ripley, a man on the outside looking in at a world of privilege and wealth of which he desperately wants to be part. And when Tom sees it all slipping away, Damon impeccably portrays where that desperation takes him - both physically and emotionally. Jude Law is the ideal foil as Dickie, the dilettante whose mesmerising presence commands both attention and affection.

Gwyneth Paltrow brings depth to Marge, displaying shades of emotion Grace Kelly would have been proud of; and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is perfect as the awful Freddie.

It's fitting that in Hitch's centennial year films like American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Three Kings and now The Talented Mr Ripley are reviving faith; not just in American cinema, but in the art form itself."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

ANTHONY MINGHELLA

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

JOHN SEALE

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with

CATE BLANCHETT

See Brad Green's
SOUNDTRACK REVIEWS

THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY (M)
(US)

CAST: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport, James Rebhorn, Sergio Rubini, Philip Baker Hall

DIRECTOR: Anthony Minghella

PRODUCER: William Horberg, Tom Sternberg

SCRIPT: Anthony Minghella (based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Seale ACS, ASC

EDITOR: Water Murch ACE

MUSIC: Gabriel Yared

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Roy Walker

RUNNING TIME: 139 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 24, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: August 22, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment







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