With a narrative that doesn't validate the film's running time, and strange tonal shifts from a breezy vacation drama, through to an illicit romance, and eventually an investigative thriller, Minghella's film struggles to find it's footing. What it does have is a brilliant central performance from Matt Damon and great location shooting. Refreshing in an age where most Matt Damon films now cost $100 + million to make.
I am unsure of how I can put this film in to words. To be honest I was emotionally scarred after my first time watching it to the point I didn't watch it again until years later. Matt Damon plays an extremely intelligent sociopath, one that is not to be taken a fool. The twists and turns of this story can be confusing at first, (it was for me anyhow.) But in the end, this screenplay adapted from the book, is genius.
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.