Matt Damon as Tom Ripley
Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Talented Mr. Ripley

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and brief nudity.

Reviewed by: Hillari Hunter
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
2 hr. 15 min.
R

Starring: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Phillip Seymour Hoffman | Director: Anthony Minghella | Producers: Sydney Pollack, William Horberg, Tom Sternberg | Distributor: Paramount Pictures

It’s the 1950s, and Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is sent to Italy by Dickie Greenleaf’s father, a wealthy ship builder businessman. Mr. Greenleaf wants Ripley to convince his neer-do-well son to come home back to America. However, once playboy Ripley gets to Italy, he is seduced by a life of leisure and doesn’t want to leave. He intends to stay forever, but when Dickie decides he’s tired of Ripley’s friendship, things turn deadly as Ripley decides to take on Dickie’s identity.

Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow
Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow in “The Talented Mr. Ripley”

This film has many layers, as we find out later that Dickie is not the charming young man he appears to be. It is disturbing to watch how Ripley starts weaving his web of lies, then has to keep up the deception in order to cover himself.

There are murders, a suicide, and scene after scene of lies and deception. Dickie and girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) live together, and are shown in a partially off-screen sex scene. Dickie and Ripley are shown partially naked in several scenes as well. Ripley himself is homosexual, and while there are no same-sex scenes, there are plenty of hints that he practices an alternative lifestyle, including his declaration of love for Dickie in a crucial scene.

This story is a prime example of how coveting what another has, and deceiving people leads to nothing but pain, destruction, and heavy guilt. The film is very creepy; for adults only.

Year of Release—1999

Viewer Comments
“requires some thinking”… As disturbing as this movie is, the writers of the script created an art film that requires some thinking. Not knowing anything of Mr. Ripley’s past, I felt this character, as most may feel, had a rather tumultuous childhood. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” was very well acted by Matt Damon. He is becoming as diverse in his acting as Johnny Depp. Though I would not recommend this movie to those who are easily disturbed by a very unique, semi-violent, thriller. What is disturbing is the way Mr. Ripley can be anyone, do anything. Is he the antithesis of Jerod in “The Pretender”? At the end of the movie a myriad of feelings for Mr. Ripley went through my mind. I felt sorry for him, despised him, compassion for his misguided and lost innocence. Additionally, at the end the story came to no conclusion. Yet when one uses one’s imagination two outcomes come to my mind: 1) Ripley continues his lie and takes Mr. Greenleaf’s money… 2) Ripley has an epiphany and takes his own life, tired of the lies, deaths he creates. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Karen, age 33
disgusting… I thought that this movie was absolutely horrible and disgusting. It was too long for the very little plot that it had also. I argued with myself whether to get up and leave the theatre and waste $8. I definitly repented seeing this one and would not recommend it in the least bit! My Ratings: [1/1½]
—Kristy, age 18
Don’t see it… I went to this with a friend and we both felt it was a waste of time. The movie was long and made even longer by the slow moving plot. Not Matt Damon’s greatest role. It definitely did not live up to its reviews. DON’T see it. I would rather watch paint dry. My Ratings: [2/1½]
—Brittany Roach, age 18
“I felt swindled”… My husband and I went to see this film last night and I must say it was rather disturbing. The previews didn’t even hint at this film being about a tortured homosexual murderer. It was phenomenal acting, directing, casting and the backdrop was breathtaking but the plot and subject matter was not at all what I thought the movie was about. I felt swindled; brought in under the wrong pretext. It showed a close macabre look into the dark heart of man and that God sees what we saw in Tom Ripley and still says “I love you.” It made you understand that there are a lot of Tom Ripleys out there. After viewing the film and then remembering the title it felt really eerie. My Ratings: [2/5]
—Sylvia McWhite, age 30
“sexuality was androgynous”… I thought this was a brilliantly acted piece and excellent suspense thriller. In response to the comments about Tom Ripley being homosexual, I didn’t find him to really have a sexuality at all. But rather his sexuality was androgynous. What I mean is that Ripley can be homosexual or heterosexual whenever the situation arises. He is definitely not 100% homosexual because he is clearly attracted to the Cate Blanchett character because near the beginning of the film since he is clearly trying to impress her by pretending to be Dickie. WARNING: I AM NOW ABOUT TO REVEAL A KEY POINT OF THE FILM, IF YOU ARE DETERMINED TO SEE THIS FILM READ NO FURTHER. At the end of the film, Ripley is faced with the choice of going off with Blanchett or his homosexual friend. He chooses to go off with Blanchett and murders his gay friend when he could have just as easily murdered Blanchett.
—Andrew, age 23
“a dark movie”… After seeing this disgusting movie, I now know why I don’t go to movies anymore. We are supposed to be in the world and not of the world. This was such a dark movie with so much evil that it actually made me feel as though I grieved the spirit inside of me. Of course, they put beautiful actors and actresses in the movie and beautiful scenery, but the content was evil. Murder, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality. Pure propaganda set to music with beautiful looking people and beautiful scenery. Still, it was full of everything un-Christian. It’s very difficult to see a movie that has any real substance in this day and age. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Mary Menkhaus, age 62
“creepy / a near-masterpiece”… This movie is as well-cut and smoothly paced as anything “biggie” coming out of Hollywood this year. For those who enjoy solid filmmaking, I’d say this is a must-see film. It is, however, probably the creepiest movie I’ve seen since “Silence of the Lambs.” For Christians who want to understand a little something about the dangerous extremes that postmodern living can lead to, this film is a must see. I would recommend seeing the film recognizing the extreme difference in the characters’ (and the film’s) view of what it means to have an “identity,” versus a Christian perspective on the same topic. Then you may begin to understand what the talented filmakers were up to when designing this near-masterpiece. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Andy Brown, age 19
“stupendously good”… This movie was excellent! I don’t know why everyone is saying it is so bad! Sure, the title character is gay, and there is a bit of bloody violence, but other than that, well, this movie is not very offensive for an R rated one. Matt Damon and Jude Law give two of the best performances by ANY actors in the nineties, and both deserve Oscars. Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett provide excellent support, as well. As for the Christian rating, I’d say 16 and up is about okay. There is some brief male rear nudity, two scenes of bloody violence, and 4 f-words. But other than that, “Mr. Ripley” is stupendously good. A total and complete masterpiece. My Ratings: [2½/5]
—Gabe Rodriguez, age 18
maybe not a homosexual relationship… I am surprised that everyone thinks that Tom Ripley was a homosexual. After seeing the film several times I think that it is obvious that he was having some serious internal conflicts, and I think the affection he showed for Dickie, which many think was homosexual, really sprung from his great desire to have a brother and to have someone accept him and to be close to someone. I don’t think his feelings were sexual. I think that this film was a very interesting study on human emotions and the consequences of sin.
—John Stewart, age 22
“disturbing”… I went to this movie against my better judgment. I saw it last night, and I found the movie very disturbing. I won’t get into the details, because they have been covered. But, I will say that I have had a very hard time thinking of anything else today after seeing it. This is one of those times when I felt like I had sowed my money into the kingdom of Hell, instead of the Kingdom of Heaven. It makes me want to stay away from movies all together for a while. My Ratings: [1/3½]
—Sheila, age 34
“a cautionary tale”… Some Christian viewers were offended by the “immorality” of this movie… the movie is about immorality, but the immorality that exists in all of us. We all have the potential to kill, to sin. Don’t think you are without fault! It is a cautionary tale of selfishness, bigamy and ego…
—Marissa
disliked… First of all, I want to say that this movie is based on a book. On a series of books, in fact. And “The Talented Mr Ripley” gets even more talented and—even worse—guilt-free in the series of five books. By the end, he is a total sociopath with no guilt at all. It was hard watching this movie and comparing it with the book because so much Hollywoodism was going on. On the whole, I disliked the Hollywood habit of making the victim (Dickie Greenleaf) deserve his fate. True, it’s good to not judge bad people harshly… true most bad people are really wounded desperate people. But so many instances of “extenuating circumstances” were put in this film to soften our hearts towards Mr Ripley, that I found myself getting annoyed. Second, I went to the movie with a friend who is trying to work against his own homosexuality. My friend turned to me and said, “This movie isn’t ‘homoerotic,’ it’s homosexual, for heaven’s sake.” So much of the character’s issues of identification with other people and coveting their lifestyle was made into a homosexual issue. While homosexuality is a tough struggle for some and is definitely unBiblical, I was annoyed that so much of this guy’s problem seemed to be based or blamed on the fact that he was gay. Many people will like this movie because it is beautiful and is about the rich… and takes place in a foreign country. That sort of thing doesn’t grab me. My Ratings: [2½/3]
—Carole, age 40
a waste of time and money… Two friends and I decided on a whim tonight to go see a movie. Once at the theatre, we decided on seeing this particular one. I will admit that I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t read your review on this particular movie, and I usually won’t go to anything before doing just that. After sitting through a very long 2 hours, my shins should have been blue from kicking myself for not following through with what I had already known and stated to friends and family. ALWAYS read the reviews here first. This way you will spare yourself from spending $8.00 on a ticket, and wasting precious time. This movie is offensive, and the “hints” (?!) of homosexuality were glaringly obvious. When Mr. Greenleaf was on his boat and knew that his girlfriend was upset, he comments while walking to the lower cabin “I need to go and do some Margie maintenance.” He then proceeds to have sex with her while Ripley looks down through some hole and watches. There’s a young woman who was engaged to one man, and pregnant with Greenleaf’s baby who committed suicide due to the fact that she needed money that he couldn’t give to her. It is implied that the money was needed for an abortion. Please, do NOT waste your time nor money, to see this movie. My Ratings: [1/3]
—Eileen, age 40
a great film… I don’t know why people are treating “The Talented Mr Ripley” as if it was the most unholy movie ever made. As far as language goes, this movie was very clean for an “R” rated film. There are two violent scenes, but both are used for the story line and are definitely not as bad as other movies that have been out this year (“End of Days,” “Sleepy Hollow”). The lying in this movie is not glorified at all, but instead shows how one lie soon builds on another and can soon ruin your life. You don’t know that Ripley is a homosexual until the end, and even then nothing is shown, or talked about. I think this movie was cleaner than “The Green Mile” (which almost every reviewer gave it at least a 3). One of the best movies of the year. My Ratings: [3/4]
—Tyler Durden, age 20
…I would also disagree with the “Moral Rating” people have given to this film so far. While Tom Ripley got away with it, what life did he have left? In the end he found out that all he wanted was to be Thomas Ripley but the lies he told made that impossible. He was trapped, with only two choices: Tell the truth or try to live a lie. He chose the latter and by doing so gave away any chance he had of being happy. In the end he had killed everyone who meant anything to him. If in the end your sins will be found out, then he had done it all for nothing. And even if no one else ever knew, he would. And he would have to exist that way, for the rest of his so-called life.
—Raja
“twisted with lies and violence”… It’s a shame that a movie with such beautiful sights and landscapes has to become twisted with lies and violence. The acting is very good, but through the course of the story line, the few scenes of graffic violence ruins the film. That, coupled with the fact that as the movie progresses, Mr. Ripley becomes more and more comfortable with his homosexuality, and it seems to be the only true reality to his personality. I would not recomend this film to anyone under 18 or that is uncomfortable with the theme of sexuality throughout the film. Again, the story itself could have been much better without all of the deception, lies, and sexual content. As the film progresses, I felt more and more uncomfortable with the theme. My Ratings: [2/4]
—Fred Kilbry, age 34
“disappointed”… My wife and I were extrememly disappointed in this movie. Once again, Hollywood has given us a Trojan Horse in its preview of this movie, which turned out to be another homosexual-themed movie. Even more disturbing were the graphic murders, something we didn’t need to see. As a Christian, I was appalled that I actually spent money to watch this. This movie prompted me to search out this Web site and promise myself and my wife we’ll not spend another dollar on a movie unless we’ve researched it here first. My Ratings: [1/4]
—Scott Huffman, age 35
Not knowing much about this film except for the fact that it was highly promoted, I regretfully viewed it and with much disappointment. At a couple of points I had to actually leave the theatre and wait outside for my nerves to calm down. Yes, I agree that this film is very creepy and, being a Christian, I am prompted to wonder exactly why Hollywood—or anyone for that matter—would want to put this film together. It’s packed with violence, deceit, sexual innuendo, and hatred. It seems that Hollywood was successful in getting me to the theatre simply because I knew of and liked the actors. There is nothing redeeming about this film except that I did feel grateful, once again, to have Jesus in my life! My Ratings: [2/4]
—Donna D., age 39