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The Talented Mr. Ripley

Screenplay and Directed by Anthony Minghella
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith
Starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law,
Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman
My advice: Not for everyone, but I sure loved it.
Rating: out of
just for Matt's extraordinary acting.

The Demented, Morose, Desperate, Wanting, Confused, Intrepid, Talented Mr. Ripley.

A highly cerebral event.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a deep thinking flick. Be prepared to see this only if you are ready to immerse yourself totally within the mind of this lonely and desperate man. Without tapping into what makes Tom Ripley tick, you might as well just sit at home and watch your laundry tumbling about the dryer.

I'm so fortunate that I tapped in. From the opening "splintered" film shot, Anthony Minghella clearly wants you to see what Tom is desperately trying to hide. He's a fragmented individual. He's incomplete. He's just waiting for life to happen.

It's 1958, and Herbert Richard Greenleaf I (James Rebhorn) and his wheelchair bound wife Emily (Lisa Eichorn) meet Tom Ripley (Damon) at a piano recital in their Park Avenue home. Noticing the Princeton jacket Tom is wearing, Greenleaf surmises that Tom must have schooled with his son, "Dickie" (Jude Law). Dickie, who is now living in Italy with his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) is needed back home at his father's side and the Big Greenleaf thinks that Tom is the man for the job. Go to Italy, he tells him. I'll pay you to bring my son back home.

However, Tom never went to Princeton. In fact the jacket is borrowed as he lacks anything fine of his own. Living a nowhere existence in a basement and working as a bathroom attendant at a Manhattan theater, Tom eventually sees this "job" offer as a grand adventure and keenly sets off to bring Dickie home.Meeting up with Dickie and Marge, Tom soon decides that this is the place where he belongs. The desperation that drives his character takes it all from there.

A few of the patrons I attended this film with walked out during the near ending. Apparently they weren't seeing what I was seeing. Damon gives a tour de force performance as Ripley and the burning desire to belong, to anyone, makes his performance almost painful to watch. There are a lot of sexual undertones in this film, some of them appearing to border on homosexual, but you'll only see that if you don't dig deep enough. Ripley is ready to bond with whoever turns him a kind eye, male or female. There really is nothing sexual at all about this film, it's all about sadness and need. Tom knows what he needs and he'll stop at nothing to get it.

An extraordinary liar, gifted in forging signatures and impromptu imitations, Tom has everything he needs to take this dark thriller adeptly down each wicked twist. Matt Damon will clearly be nominated for an Oscar for this fine character portrayal. I'm not guessing on this one. I just feel it in my bones.

Remember, it's a long journey to reach Tom's bitter "end" and this movie can be an occasional labor to watch. You MUST go in with a totally open mind and be ready to sink into Tom up to your elbows. Don't look for this story to be told to you in the most direct of fashions. This is subtle story telling at it's finest.

That's my humble opinion, and I'm sticking to it!

 

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