“The Talented Mr Ripley? Yeah that’s a great film. My housemate only likes to watch it when she’s angry. In fact, I’m not allowed to watch it unless she’s in a really bad mood.”
It’s the sort of comment that Patricia Highsmith (whose novel the film is based upon) would no doubt have loved. This (arguably) for her would denote her physiological thriller had hit the right chord. From an author well respected for creating impressive works of literature that suffuse complex characters with impressive plots, making a film version of The Talented Mr. Ripley was never going to be an easy ride.
But as I chat the film over with a friend, this unexpected insight into the dynamic of my mate’s household has thrown me. Should the end product of the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley really be some sort of therapeutic means of dealing with a particularly bad day at the office?
Clearly the film does not full short in the ‘let’s kill everyone off’ department. Whichever way you analyse it, there’s almost nobody left by the end of the film. In getting from this A to a rather blood-stained B there are some fairly memorable death scenes. The murder of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) by his pal Thomas Ripley (Matt Damon) using the unusual implement of an oar certainly sticks in the mind. For me it is actually probably one of the few week moments of the film (Jude Law’s face seems to unaccountably explode with the force of the oar’s impact) in what is an otherwise superb, if slightly sinister movie.
What I particularly liked about this film was the outstanding performance of not just one but 5 members of the cast. Although all had enjoyed success prior to 1999 when The Talented Mr. Ripley was released, it’s not difficult to see why these 5 went on to be A-list stars of the ‘naughties’ era. Matt Damon and Jude Law might as well be brothers their on-screen relationship is so tight and their portrayal in the film creates a wonderful sense of mystery as to what emotions lurk beneath the surface of these two characters.
Philip Seymouth Hoffman gets it just right as the pompous, rich and eventually suspicious best-friend of Dickie Greenleaf. Cate Blanchett puts in a great performance as the love-obsessed Meredith Logue. Even Gwyneth Paltrow (who I’d be the first to say I’m not the greatest fan of) is exceptional, making me seriously question why she got caught up in some pretty diabolical movies like Sliding Doors
So was my friend’s housemate correct? Is this a film confined only to resolving ‘bad-days’ where we all want to smash an expensive Roman marble statue over someone’s head as Thomas Ripley does in the film. I can’t say I would prescribe this picture for that purpose, but if you want to see a film that’s brilliantly acted, filmed in exceptional locations across Europe and exudes the charm of early 1950’s, this movie is as good as any to watch.