"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
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
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."
"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."