The Talented Mr. Ripley
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

This is not a comfortable film to watch. It is also quite a different film from what you see in the trailers.  The Talented Mr. Ripley is the story of a bathroom attendant and part-time musician (Matt Damon) who through a bit of luck meets a rich guy who mistakes him for another high society type.  The rich guy enlists Damon to travel to Italy and try to convince his wayward son to come home.  The wayward son (Jude Law) is happy as a clam in Italy with a nice sailboat, a nice girlfriend (Gwynneth Paltrow) and a nice allowance, and has no intention of ever coming home. Damon arrives in Italy and passes himself off as someone he is not and becomes friends with the happy couple. At this point the movie starts to turn dark as Damon who feels that being anyone but himself is a big improvement, starts to make his life very complicated by trying to deceive everybody all the time.  The trouble starts when Damon not only falls in love with the life of Jude Law but with Jude Law himself. This movie is Anthony Minghella's first movie since directing The English PatientThe Talented Mr. Ripley is very good but not in the same league with The English Patient.  Matt Damon does a pretty good job in the title role which lets him play someone really different from his previous roles.  Jude Law is also good as the man Mr. Ripley would like to be. Gwynneth Paltrow doesn't have much to do here except lie around on the sailboat in a bikini which she does very well.  She and Cate Blanchett, who plays another rich American lay about, keep popping up to throw Damon's plans into chaos.  Paltrow and Blanchett together with the beautiful Italian backdrops make this a beautiful movie to look at as we watch Mr. Ripley become more and more desperate to keep the new life he has adopted.  What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.  Mr. Ripley is the kind of role that Alec Guinness used to do so well and Matt Damon is no Alec Guinness. The whole movie might have been better if done with British actors. But such is the Americanization of film that roles must be filled by big name American actors so they can fill theatre seats in the USA.  Even the non Americans (Jude Law and Cate Blanchett) are playing Americans in Mr. Ripley.  I certainly recommend seeing this movie but don't go if you are depressed and looking for something uplifting.