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Movie Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley

Story: Most times it is a good thing to read the book before you see the movie and sometimes it is not - I think this is one of those time when it wasn't such a good idea. Patricia Highsmith's book, set in the mid 1950's, introduces us to Tom Ripley, her coldblooded protagonist (he appears in four of her books) - the book is dark and relatively straightforward considering all of the plot twists and double identities. Director and screenwriter Anthony Minghella (Truly, Madly, Deeply, The English Patient), has unnecessarily added two characters and some other plot contrivances (which I of course will not reveal) to make it jazzier and to tidy up the ending. Unfortunately that adds the dreaded 20 minutes onto what should have been a two hour movie, and you know how I feel about that! But this is a film about class, money, the have and have-nots, behavior, wanna-bees, opportunity, and homosexuality. I think it is a good film, worth seeing - the real star is Italy- Bellissima!

Acting: I could watch Matt Damon do anything. I think he is smart, interesting and likable. He is just fine as the talented, dark Tom Ripley, but I was distracted again by how much he and Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry) look like one another. Spooky! English actor, Jude Law (Gattica, Midnight in the Garden of... and Onegin) is stop in your tracks handsome and was simply terrific as the monied, pampered Dickie Greenleaf. Gwyneth Paltrow was fine as the girlfriend and apparently she and Cate Blanchett (one of the added characters) signed onto this film before they got famous. And then there is Phillip Seymour Hoffman who should get some award this year for most employed actor of 1999. He is in almost every movie and he is consistently good. Give this guy a hand! Special note to Philip Baker Hall, another three named person who has been in a lot of movies - most recently, Magnolia, Cradle Will Rock and now Mr. Ripley. I wonder if it helps to have three names in Hollywood?

Quirky Meter: 2

Visual Art: Surprisingly very little

Opening Tiles: (A sometime category) Excellent!

Length: 20 minutes over the 2 hour rule