This file was generated 2002-06-11 00:22 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-09-02.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> September 2000 >> The Talented Mr. Ripley
Friends often ask me what I think of movies. Whenever I get the chance, I love to tell them my condensed opinion of The English Patient. "It's a terrific hour-and-forty-five-minute movie, but it takes more than two-and-a-half-hours to watch it." That was Anthony Minghella's breakthrough film, and I didn't expect to bother with any more. I considered seeing Talented Mr. Ripley several times while it was in theaters, but the two-plus hour runtime and my familiarity with Minghella scared me away. Sometimes, it's good to be wrong.
With Ripley, Minghella suckered me in instantly by pushing a few of my buttons: jazz, Italy, and recognizable Bach. And then there's the photography. For a good forty-five minutes, there wasn't a frame of film that couldn't stand on its own as a still photo. The combinations of composition, settings, and actors were all inspired. Seeing Gwyneth Paltrow in a bikini with some frequency didn't hurt.
I was more surprised that the suspense aspect of the movie worked on me. The story of Ripley's many-layered deception has many opportunities to expose his lies, and is clever in the way things always seem to work out. Of course, Ripley is hardly a balanced individual, so "working out" is strictly relative. Matt Damon is hardly one of my favorite actors, but I have to admit that he plays this part disturbingly well. The audience is in on the sham, but we can see that most of the characters can be oblivious to it.
It's always amazing to me to see Philip Seymour Hoffman reinvent himself. He's been terrific in Boogie Nights and one of my all-time favorites, The Big Lebowski. In all three, he has a new voice and an entirely new set of physical mannerisms. Jude Law is at least as good as he was in Gattaca, another movie with someone else appropriating his name. Philip Baker Hall turns in a nice, late performance as the hard-boiled detective, a role he could probably do in his sleep.