Film Scouts Reviews

"The Talented Mr. Ripley"

by Richard Schwartz

Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a throwback to the light thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock, treating crime and deception with a unique twist of psychodrama and charm. What it makes for is an amusing and engaging movie fueled by a convincing and almost likeable performance by Matt Damon as con artist Tom Ripley, the scheming Sammy Glick who might even murder to get ahead. Jude Law is equally believable as Dickie Greenleaf, the bohemian rich kid and trust fund expatriate whose lifestyle, and thus identity, Ripley so greatly desires. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's turn as a snobby Princeton kid is so good that you hope fate spares him a few more scenes. That other workaholic, Phillip Baker Hall, also turns up in a brief role, proving once and for all that if you have a three-part name that begins with Phillip, you're bound to find work in Hollywood. However, both Gwyneth Paltrow as the girlfriend (thankfully she spares that faux Brit accent here) and Cate Blanchett as a flitty American tourist (instead, she offers a fake American dialect) are nearly incidental since this movie is so much about what men crave and how they get there. Still, Patricia Highsmith's cool, late '50s, jazz club, beatnik, Italian Riviera mood, present especially in the first act, is pitch perfect. "Ripley" is never haunting in the way that Hitchcock could be, but it's compelling nevertheless.

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