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"The Talented Mr. Ripley"

Directed by Anthony Minghella.
Written by Anthony Minghella.  Based on the book by Patricia Highsmith.
Starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law.
Release Year:  1999 

Review Date:  1/20/00 


I apologize for being "offline" for a while; my computer's video card died, and it took a week to get things back in order on the home PC.  But now, I am back...for better or for worse.

First off, I want to briefly discuss the newest fetish of myself and Brian "Schmoove" Prenoveau:  Let me put this to you simply:  if you live or work within the city limits in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, or Washington, DC and you buy your CDs anywhere else besides, you are quite simply the dumbest piece of dung currently reading Bellview.  Why is that?  It's pretty simple, really:  you log on to the Kozmo site, fill out user info like address, credit card, blah-blah-blah.  Then, you pick out the CDs that you want--all major label and semi-major label artists and works are in stock, trust me.  EVERY CD (ok, not 2-disc sets) ON THE SITE IS $9.99.  How they can sell you CDs at this price had not been figured out yet by Schmoove or myself, but no matter.  Then, you give them an address to deliver the CDs to and any special instructions like "watch out for my doberman."  Then, ONE HOUR LATER


Yep, ONE HOUR LATER THE CDS ARE AT YOUR DOOR.  GUARANTEED!  None of that $10, FedEx overnight horseshit; they bring the discs to your doorstep!  Schmoove ordered a CD off of last week; within 45 minutes, he had ordered a CD online, turned off his computer, left work, made his 10-minute commute home, parked, walked inside his house, started talking to his roommate about what a great service Kozmo was, and five minutes later, a guy showed up with his CD.  Did I mention that with tax and no tip (Kozmo policy is no tipping), this came to $10.56?  And he didn't even leave his house!!!!

OK, back to the movies.  "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is based on a book by Patricia Highsmith and the movie is directed by Anthony Minghella, the director of "The English Patient."  In that regard, "Patient" is like "Ripley" in that it takes its sweet ol' time to weave its narrative.  Julia "Trik" Perkins, kind enough to spend the day with Bellview last Friday, has seen "Patient" twice, and commented afterwards that the scenery is beautiful in both movies--"Ripley" lets its camerawork make love to the Italian countryside and 50's-era jazz boutiques.  Also, character development is slow in both movies too, as Minghella carefully shows us different sides of each main personality.

The story:  a millionaire father sends Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) to Italy to retrieve his wayward Princeton graduate son, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), who has left home and made a career of spending his daddy's cash.  Once Tom, a man of odd jobs in New York City, finds Dickie (and his ladyfriend Marge, played by Gweneth Paltrow), he slowly becomes envious of Dickie's lifestyle and begins to take it over.

Julia loved the cinematography--in particular, the bleeding effects during the opera sequence and some of the sweeping camera angles--and the way the story came full circle.  Also, Damon's hideously lime-green swimsuit "left too little to the imagination."  The beautiful sets and the jazz-infused soundtrack get high marks, and everything that Law wears during the movie emanates cool.  If I was half the man (looks-wise) that Law is, I wouldn't have time to write these reviews, because the sign-up sheet on my door would always be full.  And Damon, by losing about 20 pounds and slapping on some Clark Kent glasses, plays the loser to a t.  Think Willy Loman without the suitcase.

Paltrow and Cate Blanchett, playing the women scorned slots in this movie, do a serviceable job, but the real breakout here is Law, who will be extremely overexposed in the near future if he's lucky.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of interesting plot twists--I wouldn't say surprising, just interesting--that keep this movie flowin' after Dickie Greenleaf disappears that I can't mention here.  But, needless to say, they are twisty and like Ripley, they shed an interesting light on all of the principals.  And Damon's character is scary in how quickly he can be the quiet, tooly geek...and then BAM!, play the dark, manipulative side too.  Damon may be staring down his second Oscar nod for his work here.

Negatives:  there really aren't any; the movie does start a little slow, and it can be overly...ambiguous in some points, but I can't really go into why.  But otherwise, Julia and I both liked it a plenty.  In my mind, a lock for a Best Picture nomination in March.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09