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MATT DAMON & JUDE LAW IN 'THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY'

Vintage cover of the Patricia Highsmitch novel
It's rare that a "modern" American remake of a New Wave French film would be ten times superior. Then again, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY from 1999 and 1960's  PLEIN SOLEIL (PURPLE NOON) are really two variations of Patricia Highsmith's novel that the American version's named after...

Alain Delone's Tom's too upfront
In PURPLE NOON everything is presented through dialogue, including what Ripley, played by then-newcomer Alain Delon, intends to do to the older, more experienced mentor he was hired to bring back to his frustrated rich daddy. Any and all suspense is lost in this colorfully playful version compared to the dark yet spry and jazzy Anthony Minghella Neo Noir starring Matt Damon in the TALENTED title role, and the perfect young man in Jude Law's Dickie Greenleaf, a sort of shallow, frolicking, womanizing beatnik in stylish clothes (with a sax instead of bongos), bedding a local girl while engaged to the sweet-natured Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge, his cheated-on soulmate (who makes him wear a ring i.e. what ends up the film's "McGuffin").

Unlike the original, Dickie's goading is very effective
We'll name a few more folks but some writeups dealing with a handful of characters tend to read like a phonebook. But one thing's clear — there's nothing better than a motion picture with two stories in one: for example, PSYCHO with Janet Leigh first leading the story and then being covered up... And here, Judd Law's spoiled rich kid —acting like he owns life itself in an endless party of jazz and drink — steals the show as if Damon's Tom Ripley is aware of just that: Despite being a bonafide sex symbol, Matt Damon never had the perfect looks of an actor who got by on his appearance alone, making him a sublime, mild-mannered sociopath to realistically covet the life of a seemingly flawless guy while providing enough homo-erotic tension... a catapult for the senses and storyline both... to make every proverbial page-turning moment more and more intriguingly addictive...

RipleyScore: ****1/2
The second story involves Damon's Tom stealthily taking over Dickey's identity, and thriving more on being that special someone else than what the money brings (like PURPLE NOON), trying to keep the truth from various people who are soon to be in close proximity — including your typical snoopy, pseudo-friendly detective...

Terrific Artwork obvious not the studio
Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Dickey's upper class, wonderfully pretentious Harvard crony, Freddie — who wasn't sure about Tom before — eventually gets closer to the truth as the suspense mounts in an Alfred Hitchcock manner: From the stylized sets to the genuine locales to creative camera angles, everything and everyone means something: including Cate Blanchett, nearly getting Tom in trouble in a close-call mixup fashion while Jack Davenport's flirtatious yet innocent gentleman musician, Peter, attempts pulling Tom's real self out, per se....

And, as it should be, what's really, truly important and mesmerizing is Matt Damon, turning in the best performance of his career, never showing his cards to where his character-arc provides the leering, jigsaw momentum — sometimes intentionally slow, other times risque and borderline frenzied — of the entire two-hours-and-twenty-minute ride, ultimately split between two very... talented actors.
A great shot done with a mirror that could be overdone if not in the perfect movie and moment
The turning point on the small boat that's about to get ugly: with an hour-and-twenty-minutes to go
The Madonna statue rising (carried) from the sea is one of the most hypnotizing moments on film
Philip Seymour Hoffman bringing true character to the flat one-dimensional Freddy in the French version
This movie is to Jazz what Good Will Hunting's to a chalkboard
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