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Paramount Studios presents
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

"The thing with Dickie—it's like the sun shines on you, and it's glorious. And then he forgets about you and it's very, very cold."
- Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: June 27, 2000

Stars: Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow
Other Stars: Cate Blanchett, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Director: Anthony Minghella

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and brief (frontal male) nudity.
Run Time: 02h:18m:54s
Release Date: June 27, 2000
UPC: 097363314271
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The Talented Mr. Ripley is many things, but first and foremost a cautionary tale. Happiness lies within. Academy Award®-winner director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) carefully crafts this Hitchcockian thriller, interweaving psychology with folk lore, Jazz with classical, imagery with darkness; all as purposeful in their positioning as is his homage to Italian Cinema. Minghella is obviously in control of nearly every aspect of every frame, from music (some of which he wrote) to the placement of fractured statues ("Tiny visual gestures, visual rhymes—because Ripley himself is never whole.")

Ripley (Damon) is the story of a scheming 40's Cinderella, "plucked from his basement apartment" and thrown into a worldwind live-for-the-moment, rich-and-famous lifestyle that includes an unrequited homoerotic romance with Dickie (Law), the son of a wealthy Ship-building magnate and his girlfriend Marge (Paltrow). "I always said that I would rather be a fake somebody than a real nobody," Ripley says.

This is the basic problem. We are always searching for the greener grass, playing jealous games and daydreaming we were that "somebody" else with the looks and the money and all the accoutrements that come with those attributes—or in other words, Dickie. From the moment Ripley sets eyes upon Dickie he is hypnotized by his beauty, his allure. Ripley, who has been paid handsomely by Dickie's father to bring his playboy son home from Italy (because he is under the false impression they went to Princeton together), weasels his way into Dickie's affections by deliberately allowing him to see his collection of jazz records, planted solely to pull off this ruse. Like the many jazz tunes within, Ripley must quickly improvise upon his initial lie to stay in Italy, with Dickie, unencumbered.

All is well until Dickie's frat brother Freddy Miles (Hoffman) arrives, shattering the carefully orchestrated relationship he has woven with Dickie. Freddy reads Ripley's hand right off the bat, and the tension builds until Ripley's perfect little world must come to an end—a reflection of the folly of his ambition.

While Ripley is an enduring tale of deceit and treachery, it also a sad story of a man searching for love. Minghella's success is made possible by an exceptional and erudite cast, whose performances are among the best of last year. Damon is superb in the many-layered role of Ripley, the "right" actor that Minghella refused to begin shooting his own adapted screenplay until he found. Law, as Minghella says, exudes raw sexuality and the unapologetic airs of a philandering rich boy who makes you feel the warmth of the sun on you. Law garnered a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award® nomination for his portrayal of Dickie Greenleaf. Gwyneth Paltrow follows up her Academy Award®-winning role in Shakespeare In Love, with another Oscar®-worthy performance here, but both she and Matt Damon were overlooked.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This is a beautiful, near flawless transfer. The colors, while generally muted when Dickie's not around are sharp and accurate. Flesh tones are accurate, and the sharp-as-a-razor image shows every pore, every hair on each characters' face. The only minor issues are occasional appearances of edge enhancement, and a small amount of dot crawl—but folks, that's it! Subtitles come in a preferred yellow Arial font, outlined in black, and are very easy to read.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Another nice transfer from the folks at Paramount, but you will be so absorbed in the film you'll hardly notice it. The room comes alive with the musical score, but even the scenes that are dialogue heavy the front stage is wide and the sound placement accurate. The acoustics of conversations in these real places is nicely rendered, so that you feel the correct sense of spacing and depth. The short nightmare scene is properly jarring and creepy. Nice job.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by writer / director Anthony Minghella
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Teaser/Trailer (2.35:1):
Even the trailers/teasers work here: there is no doubt that the sexuality they exude sent me originally to the theater—I just wish SOMEONE would have mentioned the FULL frontal male nudity—we brought our 13-year-old daughter along!

Cast and Crew Interviews (14m:38s):
Unlike usual interviews that amount to little, this section contains a wealth of astute observations and shows the erudition of this superb cast and its director. This is the rest of the story you don't usually get once they've snipped out the 10-second sound byte for "Extra!" Or "Coming to Theatres Soon!"

Inside the Talented Mr. Ripley (22m:30s):
There is some repetition of information here, while the plot and characters are fleshed out a bit more than the straight philosophical insights discussed in the interviews. The effect of Italian Cinema on Minghella is shown, especially La Dolce Vita and I Vitelloni. Too much of the middle plot is discussed, so I would suggest NOT watching this before viewing the film if you did not seen it theaters.

Music videos:
Shots from the movie along with Matt Damon and the Guy Barker International Quartet in the forlorn My Funny Valentine. Fiorello, Jude Law and Matt Damon perform Tu Vuo: Fa L'Americano as seen in the movie.

Making of the Sountrack (08m:19s):
An interesting look behind-the-music, showing how deeply entrenched Minghella becomes, even with the musical aspect of his films. I really enjoyed listening to the modern day composers speak about their craft, because it's my belief that most people take musical scores for granted. More supplements like this!

Director Anthony Minghella's Commentary
Well, to be completely honest I was feeling a bit like Cinderella. You see, here it is, midnight fast approaching on the day of release and I haven't finished my review. So, I figure I'll skip around the commentary—break my rule for once of not cheating. Two hours later I am convinced I have just listened to THE FINEST commentary yet on DVD. Minghella, who like Peter Gabriel, spends upwards of 3 years on his projects, is so engrossing, that you feel like you've taken a film class, had a history lesson, been to the confessional, met his family, listened to music appreciation hour on NPR and still had the time to delve into every fascinating nook and cranny of each character in each scene. When I watched the other extras I thought, what more could he possibly have to say. The fact is, a lot. And although he is often describing what is occurring on screen, he is not repeating what you are seeing, but revealing the naked underbelly of a story richer for his telling, his involvement, his personal touches. If you were disappointed like some people I know because the film differed from the book, take a listen to this commentary and you may see the whole film and effort in a much different light. Phenomenal.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

This a finely drawn, taut thriller that will keep your heart leaping into your throat to the last. Luckily, not only has Paramount given this artful film its just due, Anthony Minghella has given posterity one heck of a lesson in the difference between a director and an artiste by truly taking the viewer into the film. Highly, highly recommended.


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