Plot: What’s it about?
Few actors have made more of an impact in the last few years than Matt Damon. Damon, most noteable known for his role in Good Wil Hunting won an Oscar (along with longtime friend) Ben Affleck for Best Orginal Screenplay. It was at Harvard some eight years ago that Damon first came up with the idea for the story and through a lot of effort, luck and hard work…it finally made it to the screen in late 1997. Damon was first noticed on screen way back in 1992 among the ensemble cast of School Ties (among which included Ben Affleck, Chris O’ Donnel and Ben Affleck). To quote the Grateful Dead “What a long strange trip it’s been”…for Matt Damon. He shows promise as an actor, by choosing his roles very carefully, although Rounders was a financial dud, it’s one of my personal favorite movies. Being in Saving Private Ryan didn’t hurt his reputation either! So when he teamed with Anthony Minghella, Academy Award winning director of “The English Patient” and freshly adorned Oscar princess, Gwyneth Paltrow the result was sure to be a grand one. It was.
The Talented Mr. Ripley follows the life of Tom Ripley (Matt Damon). Obviously intellegent and educated, he has a unique skill to impersonate a person’s actions and mannerisms. Well-liked by adults, and rich ones at theat, he earns a living by passing himself off as other people. The movie opens with a piano recital and none other than Tom at the keys. So vastly impressed by his skill and his jacket (which bears a Princeton crest) that he asks Tom to travel to Europe to bring back his son. Dickie (Jude Law) it seems, has a real liking for Jazz music and the white sand beaches of Italy. Also mentioned to Tom is that Dickie is seeing someone named Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) and is a seemingless bottomless hole when it comes to money. In return for the trip, and upon successful completion, Tom will receive $1000; a fortune to Tom especially in the 1950’s.
During the voyage to meet Dickie, Tom meets Meredith Logue (Randall) (Cate Blanchett). Meredith overhears someone call Tom “Greenleaf” and being from the same social status, she introduces herself and the two become instant friends. From here on out, we see how badly Tom wants to not only be a part of Dickie’s life, but actually be Dickie. The movie is filled with a large number of homosexual images and references, but I personally don’t believe that Tom is homosexual…he is more in love with the materialism of the lifestyle than the physical necessity of another man.
It’s not too long that Tom’s world of imagine starts to cave in on him, but unlike most other movies, that doesn’t always spell doom for the lead character. The Talented Mr. Ripley delivers a certainly unexpected twist (a few, actually) that would ruin the rest of the story if told here. While some may criticize the movie solely based on the director, others (like me) love the movie for how sophisticated the plot and acting are. While I made a vow never to see “The English Patient”, I now wait anxiously for Minghella’s next directing venture. Check out The Talented Mr. Ripley for some great acting, great music and plot twists that will keep you guessing until the end scene…
Video: How does it look?
The Talented Mr. Ripley is presented in a stunning 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. The colors are very bright and vivid, and with a lot of the scenic shots taking place in Eurpor (in fact, most all of them take place there), we are treated to a visually superior film. Fleshtones are dead on as are black levels. The anamorphic transfer also eliminates the shimmering that we’re so used to as well as the digital artifacting and compression errors that are found on a lot of discs (even some that are 16:9 enhanced). Overall, The Talented Mr. Ripley is as much a visual accomplishment as it is a literay one. A great transfer that I personally could find nothing wrong with.
Audio: How does it sound?
While the audio of this disc will not exactly bring the house down, it’s a very solid mix. In one of the opeing scenes, Tom plays the piano and the dynamics of it sounds absolutely great. Later on he is playing the piano again and it’s equally as impressive. Dialogue is free of distortion and sounds very well-balanced, and surround effects, while few are far between do the job and make this soundtrack sound all the better. Again, this soundtrack isn’t something to show off your system with, but it’s a good, solid soundtrack that does it’s job and makes the movie all the more interesting.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Paramount is finally getting into the Special Edition game. While they stated off slow, they have been adding more and more “Special Edition” titles to their lineup, though the words have never graced the covers of their DVD’s. The Talented Mr. Ripley features, above all, a feature length commentary track with the director of the movie, Anthony Minghella. The commentary, while informative, is a bit slow compared to some of the other tracks out there that have more than one person narrating. Still, it’s a nice touch and is better to have than not to have on the disc. Also included is a featurette and a few music videos, while unpopular music to most, it’s another nice touch. Lastly, a documentary on the making of the soundtrack is included and it’s almost as important to watch as it is to listen to the commentary, as we learn that music is very important to the director. All in all, Paramount has put out a very nice edition here, and it being a very popular movie should pave the way for more Special Editions to come. Nice work.