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.