The Talented Mr. Ripley

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Mr. Ripley's main talent is being an imbecile.

This entire film is seen through the eyes of Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), a murderer, and the real question is not whether Tom will get away with his murders but whether he will find happiness. This is because Ripley is the film's protagonist, and we are sympathetic to his needs and desires. We have no choice. Director Anthony ("The English Patient") Minghella has theoretically put us in the position of wanting to see Tom succeed.

Except that I couldn't have cared less about anything in this film. The first object of Tom's desire is Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), an American loafing around in Italy with his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow). In other words, Dickie is loaded. His father (James Rebhorn) explains to Tom that what Dickie is really good at is spending his allowance. He pays Tom a thousand dollars to go to Italy and convince Dickie to come home. God forbid he should cut off Dickie's allowance and just force him to come home. Instead, he hires some stranger to go find him.

It's no revelation that Tom ends up killing Dickie, because really, what else is he going to do? Tom is gay. Dickie is straight. And nobody, but nobody in the world wants to see a gay relationship where one of the male participants' names is Dickie. So Tom just ends up killing him, which is no great loss to the world, really. Tom, from the lower class, kills Dickie, from the upper class. Marx would have been proud. Victory for the worker!

Who knows how long Tom could have traipsed around Europe, but he's after Dickie's life and he stays in Italy, which leads to all kinds of problems. There's Marge, who starts to suspect something is up when Dickie doesn't come around anymore. There's Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who suspects Tom immediately. And there's Meredith (Cate Blanchett), who believes Tom is Dickie. Do we care when things don't work out for anybody? Not really. Minghella certainly has done a fine job of making his film convince us that Mr. Ripley's main talent is being an imbecile.

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