To be young and carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s; that's la dolce vita Tom Ripley craves - and Dickie Greenleaf leads. When Dickie's father, a wealthy ship builder, asks Tom to bring his errant playboy son back home to America, Dickie and his beautiful expatriate girlfriend, Marge Sherwood, never suspect the dangerous extremes to which Ripley will go to make their lifestyle his own. After all, it's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.
There are diabolically smart surprises wherever you care to look in this glittering thriller. Proving that the brilliance of "The English Patient" was no fluke, Anthony Minghella shapes a hypnotic, sensually charged adaptation of Patricia High smith's fascinatingly reptilian murder story. The traffic-stopping cast includes Matt Damon as the dangerous chameleon of the title and, in a star-making role, the English actor Jude Law as a rich dilettante who exerts a homoerotic magnetism. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the odd woman out with the shrewdness of a fine character actress, while Cate Blanchett makes the delirious most of her role as a needy American post-debutante. As the story's odious playboy-snob, Philip Seymour Hoffman is scene-stealingly wonderful. Gorgeously photographed in Italy by John Seale. — Janet Maslin
1999-12-24 | Janet Maslin | Read the New York Times Review of The Talented Mr. Ripley