The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Review Date: December 26, 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Writer: Anthony Minghella
Producers: William Horberg, Tom Sternberg
A certain Mr. Ripley is hired by a worried American father to go to Italy and convince his rich, spoiled, playboy son to return to the States. Once Ripley meets up with the man and his fiance, he finds himself strangely attracted to the man, his better-half and their lifestyle. It isn't long before Ripley yearns to take on a bigger part of the rich boy's life, and soon finds himself doing almost anything to achieve that very goal.
Once more, this film falls into the early-winter Oscar movie trend of running waaaaaay too long for its own good. This is a good film with fine performances, solid direction, picturesque views and an interesting premise, which essentially gets diluted in a script which focuses a little too much on the "lives of the rich and famous" and not enough on the tightness of the story, which could easily have afforded us more thrills, tension and intrigue. I also thought that the homosexual under/overtones of the film were too obvious and distracting on the whole, without the proper resolution to justify all of its ambiguous references. Did it really matter what his sexuality was? Why not focus more on the loneliness of the character? Anyway, I guess this criticism is more of a personal quip. The director might've felt as though this ambiguity was integral to the character. I didn't and found it generally intrusive. On the whole, the film actually felt like three hours, but it turns out that it was only about two hours and twenty minutes, so I guess it did lag somewhat. The performances were all pretty good with Law and Damon kicking the most ass. Damon was particularly effective as the man with the "talent" to fool all others, and this despite the fact that I didn't truly perceive his character to be as "talented" as he was just plain lucky! Either way, Damon was solid in the role.
Overall, this film is intriguing enough to sit through, but difficult to fully recommend because of its slow pace and lack of real tension. Some people are comparing this to Hitchcock's films, but I doubt any of his films lagged this much. I don't mean to harp on this length thing, but as superficial as it may seem, not many people have the patience to sit still for long periods of time, simply to gaze at beautiful Italian sceneries going by from time to time. More meat is what this story needed, and a stronger emotional pull from its lead character, who did generate some spark of menace and vulnerability, but ultimately seemed to get lucky most of the time, or be at the right place at the right time. If anything, I would recommend you catch this movie on video so that you could be your own judge and see if this story truly "works" for you. I dug the cinematography, the actors and the direction on the whole, but found the story to be less realistic than I would have liked and unreasonably long for my taste. Love it or hate it, I think we could all agree on one thing: Jude Law is one great looking man! Oh yeah, this film also has a dubious ending which may leave many unsatisfied, but despite my own initial disappointment, I liked it after all.
(c) 2013 Berge Garabedian