The Talented Mr. Ripley

on December 25, 1999 by Annlee Ellingson
   Hardly the thriller its marketing team has made it out to be, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is instead a desperate drama about an outsider frantic to stay within the warm glow of wealth, beauty and popularity once he's gotten his foot in the door. Hired to return Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), the wayward son of a New York shipping magnate, from his playboy lifestyle in Italy, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) instead befriends him, penetrating his circle of friends by impersonating a non-existent college chum and paying acute attention to detail. Impressions and research are just two of his many talents, which also include a knack for lying and forgery. All of which come in handy when Tom--cast aside when the novelty's worn off and he can no longer pay his own way--accidentally kills Dickie and assumes his identity partly to cover up the crime but also to take over the lifestyle to which he's become accustomed. That it's an accident and not a calculated move is disappointing, for Tom's keen observations and uncanny impersonations leading up to the crime suggest that murder is just part of his oeuvre. Even more dissatisfying is the underuse of his talents, such as his ability to mimic even Dickie's girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow).
   Still, the performances here are stunning, with on-the-money turns by supporting actors Philip Seymour Hoffman as a fellow ex-patriot keen to expose Tom as a hanger-on and Cate Blanchett as a flighty, insecure American girl. John Seale's on-location cinematography is luxurious, and writer-director Anthony Minghella exhibits a talent for making even the most insignificant moments palpably tense or lusty. Starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Cate Blanchett. Directed and written by Anthony Minghella. Produced by William Horberg and Tom Sternberg. A Paramount release. Drama. Rated R for violence, language and brief nudity. Running time: 139 min
Tags: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Anthony Minghella, William Horberg, Tom Sternberg, A Paramount release, Drama, forgery, stunning, on-the-money, wealth, popularity

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