Tom Ripley is a charismatic sociopath who makes his way in mid-’50s New York as a rest room attendant and pianist. His skill however is in impersonating other people, forging handwriting and running second-rate scams. Unhappy with his own life, he kills and takes on the persona of a playboy.
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As someone else pointed out, Gwyneth Paltrow did not ruin this movie. She's a nothing person and so she makes excellent arm candy. My intense jealousy of Jude Law being almost the perfectly beautiful arrogant human specimen caused my hatred of him to skyrocket. I don't know what it is about Matt Damon, but he's got the talent, and the ability not to be hated upon. He got the character better than Malkovich.
This is comfort food for me. Jude Law is extraordinary and Damon does creepy scary as well as anyone I've seen but the true gem here is Philip Seymour Hoffman. His interrogation of Ripley is one of the most awesome and menacing scenes in cinema.
Minghell's film is far better than René Clément's "Plein Soleil" from 1960. Mat Damon gives an exceptional character study of Tom Ripley, especially when he learns to copy Dickie Greenleaf step by step. Also great is the idea to introduce a second female main character (which can't be found in Highsmith’s novel) as means to create some tense situations and the climax at the opera house.
Great fun and a very polished stab at Highsmith. The imagery tends to linger the most like a persistent cloud cast across the perpetually sunny holiday of the earlier sections of the film. There's not much depth to the interpretation but that's small criticism when it plays this ravishingly.