Believe him or not
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Review by Ross Anthony

As the title appears on screen, the word "Talented" arrives only after shuffling tentatively through a series of other fitting words: passionate, confused, misunderstood, lost, etc. Telling insight into Ripley's character.

A powerfully strong first act, Ripley (Damon) is commissioned by a rich American shipbuilder to persuade Dickie (his aloof son) to return home from Italy. Ripley a master of impersonation, forgery, lying, and the piano becomes so fatally seduced by the lavish lifestyle with this obsession extending to Dickie (Jude Law) that his original mission is abandoned at sea. But when Dickie doesn't share Ripley's jubilance over this new found relationship -- well, the film takes an ugly murderous twist from which it never recovers.

Having arrived early to the screening, I took a peaceful stroll in a nearby park where I came across an unusually shaped tree. Leaning nearly 45 degrees into the path, it seemed to cut back 90 degrees in the opposite direction. But further inspection revealed that the tree had been cut to avoid blocking the path. What I had thought to be the trunk was actually just a very thick branch, elbowing from its grossly severed trunk. I had no idea this was some freakish foreshadowing for a movie I was soon to screen. "Ripley" builds at an interestingly artful angle, takes a lethal twist, then just keeps going; no peak, no climax, no resolution.

That said, the acting, dialogue, direction and cinematography are fantastic. I've not seen Damon stronger. And Jude Law is absolutely stunning, he fills the Dickie character with magnificent fervor. Paltrow is nothing less than convincing as a fine cast of actors front exacting direction (spectacular really) and warm wonderful cinematography faulted only slightly with its use of a soft focus filter that I found distracting. The film's seldom-surfacing sinister sense of humor is also delightful.

But like Ripley and his mission, this gorgeous film sabotages the bizarre journey it originally offered -- only to become a serial account of psychosis, betrayal and murder.

  • The Talented Mr. Ripley. Copyright © 1999. Rated R.
  • Starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport, James Rebhorn.
  • Directed by Anthony Minghella.
  • Screenplay by Anthony Minghella based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith.
  • Produced by William Horbert and Tom Sternberg at Paramount/Miramax.


Copyright © 1999. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:51:41 PDT