The Talented Mr. Ripley


Directed by: Anthony Minghella
Written by:Anthony Minghella
Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall
Released: February 24, 2000
Grade: A

Tom Ripley (Damon) is a complicated young man living in the slums of New York trying to put a few bucks together.  Manipulation for him is second nature - he loves escaping from his own dismal world and making it something better.  One day, whilst filling in as a pianist for a small function, he meets an elderly couple that noticed the Princeton jacket he was wearing.  Their son, Dickie Greenleaf (Law), also went to Princeton but moved to Italy years ago and has severed all contact with his parents.  Tom Ripley is about to be given the opportunity of a lifetime.  Under the false assumption that Tom actually new Dickie, they offer him and all-expenses paid trip to Italy, if he can persuade Dickie to return home.

In Italy, Tom meets Dickie and finds in him, everything he wish he could be.  He loves his life, his girlfriend (Paltrow), his clothes, his house, everything.  They develop a close friendship and Tom couldn’t be happier.

That is until, Dickie tires of their friendship and thinks it’s time Tom Ripley moved on.  Unwilling to let go, Tom will do anything to keep what he has.  Anything.

Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley, couldn’t be more beautifully adapted then this effort from writer-director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient).

Matt Damon’s performance in the leading role is blistering.  On the outside he seems so innocent but slowly we are introduced the darkness that haunts his inside.  Yet as bad as Tom seems, he’s still hard not to like and perhaps we can all relate to his situation.  It’s always hard to meet someone you think is great and build a friendship/relationship.  You’ll lie about anything just to make them like you more.

When Minghella originally cast this movie, none of the four leads were big stars but how so much has changed in two years.  Damon and Paltrow have won Oscars, and both Law and Blanchett have picked up nominations.  Minghella sure has a keen eye and the cast are up to the task here.

The movie is filled with sly twists and turns as you become more familiar with the characters and what they’re all thinking.  It’s almost funny to an extent.

Filled with wonderful Jazz and picturesque scenery, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a timeless thriller that grows on you right up to the film’s final scene.  As Ripley so eloquently puts it - “whatever you do, no matter how terrible or how hurtful, nobody thinks that they’re a bad person”.  A thought worth pondering...