Tuesday, October 9, 2012
MUST-RENT MOVIE REVIEW: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Imagine this: The perfect WASPie girl, her filthy rich, gorgeous, playboy fiance, and some of the most lush views of Italy ever put to film. Now imagine all that beauty grotesquely marred by a cloying, grasping, and terrifying (but fascinating) guest. I was shocked when (in 1999) this film was not nominated for Best Picture, not to mention the absent nods for director and lead actor.
I have to say that The Talented Mr. Ripley is a rare example of perfect (yes, I said perfect) casting. Gwenyth Paltrow is flawless as the lovely, upper-class young woman of breeding. She is the ideal actress for this role, and she nails it. Matt Damon is 100% spot-on as the way-out-of-place interloper. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, faultless as another somewhat revolting member of the leisure-class. And the creme-de-la creme: Jude Law as the spoiled and irresistible Dickie Greenleaf. Now, Jude was nominated for supporting actor, thank goodness. I swear, I cannot, offhand, think of a more perfect casting nor a more perfect performance. The role requires someone so beautiful and unattainable that you are entranced by him despite the fact that he is vile. The stench of wealth suffocates him, poor fellow. He's so bored and unhappy, lounging around his Italian villa on his father's dime. He's mind-boggling in the way he embodies this character. You can practically smell his money and feel his perfect, pretty skin.
There is a very Alfred Hitchcock vibe to this film, but despite it's circa-1950's setting, there is much more modern edge to the thrill of this thriller. It is pretty gritty. It's better not to get into too much detail, because it's much more enjoyable to just jump out of your seat and cover your eyes. Don't misunderstand, though, there are no cheap shots. Every shocking event is earned with great storytelling, great direction, and great acting.
I think this movie is so worth seeing that I will attach a very interesting scene to pique your interest:
Now the warning: This movie is not, not, not for the squeamish. Nor for the 'happy ending' crowd. It is also not for the Friday the 13th crowd. You'll need to pay attention, enjoy the cinematography, and appreciate the character studies.
In two words : Absolutely mesmerizing.