The Icy Brilliance Of “The Talented Mr. Ripley!” This Riveting Thriller Has Matt Damon’s Greatest Performance!

“I always thought it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.”

With those words, Tom Ripley takes us inside his mind – a very twisted one – brought to life by a “never better” Matt Damon!

“The Talented Mr. Ripley!”

This brilliant 1999 film was criminally neglected when released, but it just gets better and better – and what a cast!

Director Anthony Minghella’s adapts the brilliant novel by Patricia Highsmith – it’s the story of a young conman, Tom Ripley, who becomes friends with rich playboy Dickie – beautifully performed by Jude Law – and Dickie’s beautiful bride-to-be, Marge. A year after winning Best Actress for “Shakespeare In Love”, Gwyneth Paltrow is also terrific in the film.

Check out the trailer:

“Ripley” is a dark film, the story of a person willing to do anything to become popular, and it works because you really believe this friendship as it forms – all based on Ripley’s lies.

“We wanted Ripley’s humanity to come across,” Damon revealed once. And it’s vital, because while he is a con man, there is much to it than that.

As Damon says: “In the book he’s this awful, calculating person, but Anthony and I tried to have him not ever manipulate anybody and come from a position of pure honesty all the time. He believes what’s happening and he believes the world he’s indulging in.”

But of course, lies are destined to be discovered, and that’s when Ripley’s world unravels.

Director Anthony Minghella won the Academy Award three years earlier for his direction of Best Picture winner “The English Patient”, but “Ripley” ages so much better…

Philip Seymour Hoffman is terrific as a friend of Dickie’s who disrupts Tom Ripley’s plans – it’s a scenery-chewing performance in the best way, as when he sees Tom watching his friends making love on their boat:

“Tommy. How’s the peeping? Tommy, how’s the peeping? Tommy. Tommy. Tommy. Tommy. Tommy.!”

Hoffman is terrific in the role – and his emergence in the film throws Ripley’s world out of whack, and soon things are spiraling out of control.

Damon’s performance is still a shock more than twenty years later – some of his best acting ever. One reason the film works is that we get to hear the character’s most intimate thoughts, such as when he admits:

“Don’t you just take the past and put it in a room in a basement and lock the door and never go in there? That’s what I do. And then you meet someone special and all you want to do is to toss them the key and say, “Open up, step inside,” but you can’t because it’s dark. There’s demons, and if anybody saw how ugly it is… I keep wanting to do that: fling the door open, just let light in and clean everything out.”

By the way, the film was ignored at the Academy Awards. Instead, here are the five films nominated for Best Picture of 1999:

“The Cider House Rules”

“The Green Mile”

“The Insider”

“The Sixth Sense”

The winner that year was “American Beauty”. I say they overlooked a brilliant movie…

By the way, here’s another film that was overlooked by the Academy:

Widely considered one of the most powerful films ever made, “The Shawshank Redemption” was adapted from a Stephen King short story!

You can see the trailer and much more from this classic movie by clicking on my story here:

Some absolutely great films were overlooked int he 90’s – here are a few more:

“Malice” and “The Paper” are both terrific – and you can see all about them here:

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Thanks so much for reading!

Categories: Academy Awards, Action Films, Art, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities

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12 replies

  1. I typically like Matt Damon as I think he is a fine actor. I did not see The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I’m putting it on my list. I forgot how many great films came out during that year. The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorites.


  2. This movie was so dark and incredibly well done – he was excellent


  3. I have not seen Malice, John, but The Talented Mr Ripley and Shawshank Redemption were amazing films. I re-listened to the short story [not that short, it is a novella] when we toured Scotland in August 2019. They boys listened to and we all thought it was a terrific story. The others in the same book, Different Seasons, are also brilliant. The Body was made into the movie Stand by Me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a brilliant adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s book and definitely Matt Damon’s finest performance to date John. I know that year had some great movies, but it’s a shame this was overlooked. As for The Shawshank Redemption not winning any awards, I’m not even going to get started!😡

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the best of the 90s, with superb casting. I have seen it quite a few times, and it gets better with repeated viewings, even though I know the ending! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Super movie! That year had a host of excellent movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shame on the Academy Awards, they missed a cracker. I wouldn’t mind giving this a re-watch because you’re right, great work from Damon in this one. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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