Sunday, January 08, 2006

[DVD] The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Identity theft has in recent times become a concern, with so much of your personal information made available online, it's relatively easy for someone else, to be you. Someone could probably learn about your name, your banking account, the school you went to, and so on.

And that's the premise of The Talented Mr Ripley, minus the technology. Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is a professional leech. He has the uncanny ability to remember minute details that get dropped off here and there, and has the charisma and confidence to assume your identity and pass it off. He's a master impersonator and forger too, skills in which an identity thief will find essential in siphoning funds from your accounts, or write letters and sign them off as yours.

By chance, he meets a shipping magnate, Herbert Greenleaf, and he's tasked with getting Greenleaf's good for nothing son, Dickie (Jude Law), back to the US. Dickie's been living the good life with fiance Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) in Italy, and as Tom gets to interact with the rich folks, he begins to enjoy the high life as well.

Living it off, eating well, visiting jazz clubs, sailing on a yacht. Dickie's lifestyle seduces Tom, and the latter offers to be a "double agent" for Dickie. That is, until things spin out of control, and he unwittingly slaughters Dickie.

Which of course gives him the best opportunity to assume Dickie's life, while at the same time, eluding the authorities, and from those who know Dickie intimately. It's interesting to see how Tom squirms his way through various situations, as each lie led to bigger lies to tell and cover up. But it doesn't degenerate into a "whodunit", rather this movie is rather dark in tone as it progresses.

Matt Damon totally rules in this one. We're accustomed to his Bourne roles, as well as the sidekick roles in various movies. Here, he plays a schizophrenic psycho to great effect, outshining everyone else. Jude Law's role as Dickie was kinda short, and doesn't showcase much of Law's acting abilities, I thought that the story might offer Dickie some sort of comeback to avenge what Tom did to him, but sadly, it did not. Gwyneth Paltrow didn't had much to do here, kind of like her role in Se7en. Cate Blanchett appears as a minor character Meredith Logue, the first person whom Tom impersonates Dickie to.

Unknowing to me, this film does have homoerotic undertones, in Tom's relationship with Dickie (or what he actually suggests), and Tom's relationship with Peter Smith-Kingsley (Jack Davenport).

Unfortunately, this Code 1 DVD is also the barebones version. Would have loved to hear the director's commentary on this movie.

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