In movies in particular and in general stories, we stand for good and against evil. Because if we toward to the direction of “the true, the good and the beautiful” is the orientation of human civilization. But if there are any works that make me stand on the evil side, though still aware of his crime, it must be a very special demon, “The Talented Mr. Ripley” is a good example like that.
Historically, the hero has always been the protagonist of the series. An exorcist usually only has one episode, because it will be destroyed at the end of the episode. But the film adaptation of Tom Ripley, the protagonist from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel, gives the opposite. Three film adaptations spanning from 1960 to 2005, have the same script killer Ripley successfully escaped.
Surprisingly, the audience is still interested in watching this somewhat paradoxical story. The appeal of both the book and the series lies in the unique character of the protagonist Ripley. A cute demon. A person has many talents, and can do almost everything, except to become himself. A pattern that makes moral or mainstream / anti-depiction irrelevant. Like Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, Ripley is a character different from the rest.
The Talented Mr. Ripley, directed by Anthony Minghella adapted from the first novel, is more excellent. Recounting Ripley’s first murder, the film is like a “grown-up” story of this evil man. This is Ripley’s most illustrated and deepest film of darkness. But the overwhelming and independent character of the film is the true, subtle and obsessive subject of homosexuality. That’s why Mr. Ripley was ranked among the best gay movies of all time.
The movie opens with Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) piano performance in the hall. It was his greatest talent: Becoming another. Because Ripley is not an artist like self-introduction, but a poor young man who makes enough to make a living. This impersonation caused a wrong-doer who had studied at Princeton and knew his son, Dickie (Jude Law). The boy is eating out in Italy with fiancée Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow), no intention to return. He asked Ripley to travel to Europe to convince Dickie of his return. That was the biggest mistake of his life.
At the surface, Mr. Ripley recounts the escape route of a murderer. Blessed by Dickie’s regal life, Ripley kills him on a boat trip, and from there, becomes Dickie himself. Using the ability to imitate voice and signature, improvisation, and above all cruelty, Ripley wandered through the police investigation as well as the suspicion of his friend Dickie, attempting to manipulate a case. suicidal. In the meantime, he enjoys the pitiful pleasures of Dickie’s money.
The attraction of Mr. Ripley comes from a clever “cat and mouse” scenario: Many times Ripley is almost revealed, but eventually gets out of control. Strangely, the viewer will worry about the evil, not the victim. This is due to the depth of the character. Matt Damon always said that Ripley was his favorite role in the career. Others believe that this is his best role. Ripley is a complex character, and Damon wraps his complexity in many layers of psychology. In Ripley there is pure innocence and desire for wealth, in moments of weakness, in human beings, and ultimately in instinctive cruelty by lack of education. Damon exhibits deep angles with ticks, such as a gesture or gaze, but so much so that we are cold back.
In the depths, Mr. Ripley is a corrupted journey, but it takes place in a world full of alienation. The coldness of the film is not only in Ripley’s behavior, but also in the characters around him. Jude Law plays Dickie, a playful dude, ready to make friends and leave others unconcerned. The reason we can sympathize with Ripley’s crimes is that he is also a victim of Dickie. Sherwood’s fiancée is silly. There is a businesswoman played by Cate Blanchett, representing the girls who run under the flowers. Just like a father willing to do everything to conceal his son … Ripley can escape, not only by his “talent”, but also by the dark corner of the people around him.
Mr. Ripley, though, still has two interesting characters. The first is Freddie, another dear friend of Dickie, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Someone once said that Hoffman is like “American ice cream, big and thick”. Of course, it’s not just his appearance, but his fullness, whether it be a supporting role or a main character. Not much to say, but Freddie is very lively. He was the only one who could see Ripley, knowing what kind of man he was, and scorning all the time. Freddie also has his own feelings. “If only I could take your place,” he told Ripley about living next to Dickie.
In the novel, it’s hard to indentify Tom Ripley’s sex. But with “Mr. Ripley”, Minghella decided to choose homosexual as the background for the film. Beautiful footage of Italy contributes to the sense and substance of the subject. Many details open up another world hidden, like Ripley and Dickie in the bathtub, or Dickie and Freddie listening to music in the room. At the time of homosexuality a “disease” had to be hidden, none of the characters were free. Mr. Ripley describes the complex psychological horizons of this derangement, the source of distorted personalities in the film. All are deep in the hells of being unable to identify who they are. As a consequence, they shift their misery to the world around them. Therefore, Ripley is both a supplement, and an antidote to the later gay genre.
But broadly, Tom Ripley is a shining example of the common journey of all, especially during the youth: Finding Yourself. “I” is not something that is available, but something that is overwritten on the original white paper, when coming out of life. Even as a monster, Ripley still creates sympathy, because of the true aspirations we all have. The tragedy is that we can not be anyone in the world. And there are people, like Ripley, who sell souls to demons to fill their lavish aspirations. He did not win, though he escaped, at the expense of a second worthy character, Peter (Jack Davenport). This is probably the only good person in the film, who is also the only person in the world who really cares about Ripley. The Talented Mr. Ripley poses a question worth pondering, at any time: Are we willing to trade to be someone important, fake, or ourselves in a trivial way?