The Talented Mr. Ripley

For those of you who like tense psychological dramas I can thoroughly recommend this film, in my view one of the best films of the year.

Directed by Brit. Anthony Minghella (‘The English Patient’, ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’), & based on the book by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote ‘Strangers on a Train’, which became a Hitchcock classic), it has a great cast: Matt Damon in the title role, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow & Cate Blanchett.

Tom Ripley is a clever nobody with a ‘talent’ for mimicry & deceit. He manages to con a rich industrialist into sending him to sunny Italy to find his son Dickie (Jude Law), who’s busy living it up on Daddy’s inheritance, & bring him back to America.

Rich carefree playboy Dickie is everything shy awkward Ripley is not; Ripley not only wants to be like Dickie, he wants to be Dickie. The way he goes about trying to achieve this is gripping from start to finish, & I won’t give the plot away by going into any more detail!

Suffice to say that along with the terrific acting, beautiful cinematography & a great jazz score, there are some of the most nailbitingly suspenseful moments in any film I can remember since Hitchcock at his best – & coming from me that’s high praise indeed!

What I liked most about the film is its ambiguity – is Ripley diabolically evil, or is he just mixed up? How much of what he does is coldly premeditated, & how much is a ‘crime of passion’? Even though he is a thoroughly nasty piece of work, you somehow find yourself identifying with & even rooting for him, & to me this is the film’s triumph. Either that or I just have a few too many ‘dark cellars’ of my own!

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