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The Talented Mr Ripley

cast: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

writer and director: Anthony Minghella

133 minutes (15) 1999 Warner VHS retail
Also available to buy on DVD

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Musician Tom Ripley lives on the edge of New York's high society, eking out a living as a cloakroom attendant. When a borrowed jacket results in him being mistaken for a Princeton graduate, the Greenleaf family hire him to fetch their errant son Dickie from Italy. But Ripley takes a fancy to both Dickie's lavish lifestyle, and to Dickie himself - and if he can't have the latter, then why not the former? A forged signature, a faded passport photograph, and he'll be Dickie Greenleaf, darling of Rome's ex-pat community. There are just one or two problems. Dickie's friends, and fianc´┐Że. And a small matter of murder...
   Minghella's epic received five Academy Award nominations, and it's easy to see why. The lush photography and period detail are bewitching, creating a sun-drenched paradise rich with ambiguous sexuality. The performances are uniformly excellent. Jude Law, as the dangerously charming Dickie, particularly impresses, and Gwyneth Paltrow and Brit TV icon Jack Davenport provide solid support.
   Matt Damon's Ripley is suitably self-effacing for the low-key first half of the film, only to blossom as he takes on a new identity and sinks into a web of deception and loss of self. The film cleverly manipulates you into sympathising with him, leaving you guiltily rooting for him to get away with his increasingly desperate deception. The final scene even delivers a heartbreaking moral of sorts, as Ripley realises that the price he's paying for his new life is simply going to keep on escalating... A rich, erotic thriller guaranteed to linger in the memory.

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