The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
September 24, 2014 9:36 PM - Subscribe

THE SPIRIT OF 99 VIEWING CLUB- A man is sent to find the wayward son of a wealthy family but soon realizes it may be better to impersonate him instead.


Did Ebert Like it? The movie is an intelligent a thriller as you'll see this year. It is also insidious in the way it leads us to identify with Tom Ripley. He is the protagonist, we see everything through his eyes, and Dickie is not especially lovable; that means we are a co-conspirator in situations where it seems inconceivable that Tom's deception will not be discovered. He's a monster, but we want him to get away with it.

The Trailer

Tom Ripley comes from Patrica Highsmith novels, which many say created the modern "Serial killer genre" with Thomas Harris and the like.

THE BEST: When Tom is outed cause his interior decor is way too bougie.

THE WORST: Cate Blanchett is kind of wasted cause she was made of this kind of retro thriller

the movie is summed up in this clip

According to IMDB: Jude Law learned to play the saxophone and Matt Damon learned to play the piano for this film.
posted by The Whelk (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

posted by The Whelk at 9:44 PM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

ALso this movie, along with GATTACA is why I had a jude law THING in high school and why I thought adult life would just be elegant Italian serial killing all the time (I go the Italy part!)
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 PM on September 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

This movie is a bit of a haze for me but I definitly remember loving it. It's such a haze that I can't even remember if it was explicitly a queer movie or if that was all subtext.
posted by latkes at 8:01 AM on September 25, 2014

The queerness is subtext in the book but really ramped up in the movie. So many open shirts and bronzed bodies and CEEEPILY INTENSE STARING. Dickie basically accused Tom of being infatuated with him before getting killed - and all the women feel like accessories, another fun thing Dickie owns.

Also I think Platrow is perfect in this because this is how I imagine every day of her real life is.
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 AM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Then again, as mentioned, this was basically the start of the Elegant Sociopath Serial Killer genre so you can argue Tom isn't exactly queer cause he doesn't have like ..human emotions.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on September 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

In the book, Tom is sort of ambiguously sexual, but he's straight-up queer in the movie, IMO.

Also in his obituary for Phillip Seymor Hoffman, Anthony Lane said his role as Freddy is a defining performance.
posted by griphus at 6:17 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Like at the end I think it's supposed to be a moment when Tom can be a normal person for once and have a life with a guy whose company he seems to genuinely enjoy without ulterior motive or having to hide and, well, them the ending happens. Although now I do wonder how much of that was Tom still playing a role and just finding comfort in it.

I haven't finished the book yet, but Tom doesn't have an iota of conscience from the start: in the movie he's sort of pulling a really innocent scam to play a piano at a bar. In the book he's an expert con artist and forger. And unlike the movie, he never seems to reveal anything more than contempt and disgust for most people, and the intense and deeply strange desire for/to be Dickie.
posted by griphus at 6:26 PM on September 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah Book Tom, is basically Hannibal Lecter without the charm, just a void of need and spite and contempt, a mineshaft where is soul should be I think one review said. Movie Tom is more dangerously fixated on Dickie as this ideal perfect life he wants, or wants to sleep with etc.

Interesting Freddy is the only main who isn't buying Dickie's shit and just seems him for the rich kid train wreck/fun guy to slum with he is. So he clearly, and quickly, sees through Tom's schemes.
posted by The Whelk at 7:34 PM on September 25, 2014

Jude Law was born to play the role of Dickie, the ultimate and purely decorative golden boy. Philip Seymour Hoffman was amazing as he always is. Yes, Freddy, repulsive as he is, is a very honest and shrewd guy who sees things and calls things exactly as they are. When Tom tells him Dickie hasn't been in touch with his friends because he's been focusing on his music, Freddy snorts, "That's bullshit. Have you ever heard him play this [indicating the sax] thing?" And it was true. As Marge had told Tom, Dickie only knew how to play a few songs, and he didn't play them all that well.

Haven't read the book, but I understand the character of Marge was improved upon somewhat, because in the book she was something of a silly cow. At least the movie Marge is writing a book, though we don't know if it's any good or not. I suppose they couldn't give her too much depth or it wouldn't have made sense that she'd want to be with someone like Dickie.
posted by orange swan at 6:19 PM on September 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

I watched this for the first time a few months ago, it has been on my "to watch" movie list forever.

It haunted me much longer than I thought it would. Ripley in the boat afterwards, all those times he almost gets caught, and the intimacy of the ending and what the guy says to Ripley. I found the whole thing very disturbing in precisely the way they wanted me to be disturbed.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:32 PM on September 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just realized my last five haircuts are just trying to ape Marptt Damon in this movie. Also I own his corduroy jacket.

And watch.


I feel like the movie is perfectly cast, Damon looks exactly like an Arrow Shirt ad but acts like a gawky teen who has no idea how people work.

WRT the Queerness, I mean there is the bath s end, a d the I love you scene, and the fact that..Tom is shacking up with his boyfriend through the entire second half of the movie? Like why does no one mention this? Marge practically match-makered them at the Opera and then Tom goes to live with him and they have tender embraces and he's a huge part of the last half of the film.

But anyone, beyond that, everyone in the movie just assumes Tom is gay. Literally everyone, even both police chiefs and Marge and Freddie, they kinda talk around it but even the police guy in Rome was like " uh if you're being cagey cause you don't want to admit you two where ....together, that's okay just say it right."
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 PM on September 26, 2014

THe first half can be seen as DERANGED HOMO DRIVEN BY LUST but then you get the second half and he's got a really nice guy who clearly loves him on his side and Tom is still NO MUST STAAAAB and it's oh no he's not crazy cause he's a repressed homosexual he's crazy cause he's a creepy blank mimic obsessed with one dude.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on September 26, 2014

..and trying to cover up multiple mjurders, is how that should end.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 PM on September 26, 2014

(Or you know, theme wise everyone thinks Tom is hiding a romantic infatuation with Dickie which is just taboo enough but really he's hiding a darker murderous thing)
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 PM on September 26, 2014

(although, movie wise it clearly starts as an infatuation, hell Dickie only gets dead cause he rebukes Tom's advances and has a moment of clarity while still being a dick )
posted by The Whelk at 9:27 PM on September 26, 2014

I believe I was the one that mentioned this as a suggestion in the initial Class of 99 thread, and was glad to see it on the list of movies.

I didn't see this when it was new. I saw it much later on DVD. I get why this wasn't a huge smash (box office mojo suggests it basically broke even domestically if you believe the thing about marketing costing as much as the production budget). My rememberance of it at the time was that this was one of a few movies that seemed to cement the "of the two, Damon's the one that can really act" thing that was dogging him and Ben Affleck for a while. And it's such an interesting thing to make at that point in his career. The breakout for both of them was a couple years earlier. Damon'd had 10 minutes on screen in Saving Private Ryan... And then in 99 you had this and... Dogma (Affleck and Damon were/are old friends of Kevin Smith's and so would probably have been in that no matter what).

So irreverent religious comedy the same year you have this arty (all the shots of reflections both broken and otherwise!) little thriller that could almost read like Hannibal Lecter's college years if Tom was eating the rude.

I was still shocked by the initial murder in this movie. It's brutal and hard to watch in exactly the way it should be. I was also surprised by the number of things Tom fairly nakedly says about himself but which he attributes to other people as a way of manipulating them. And every time he's directly honest, Damon takes on this extraordinarily creepy body language that does a perfect job of showing you Tom's hollow core. Yet somehow we remain heartbroken for him at the end despite all the evil he's done. Though, of course, the one I feel the most sorry for is Marge. Taken away in a boat for some good ol' fashioned 50s gaslighting and what not.

In any case, I was glad for the chance to revisit this movie after years and years. I think it's held up quite well. Given the period setting and what not, there's not really much in it that would age it poorly and by and large the performances are all quite good. Damon and Seymour-Hoffman kind of steal the show, of course. Good lord how the latter manages to just EXUDE how repulsive, annoying and yet smart/insightful Freddie is. He's not on screen for that much time but the type of person that character is is conveyed perfectly.
posted by sparkletone at 3:12 PM on September 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

In another connection, based in attitude and actor, you can pretend this Freddie is Freddie Lounds father presaging the events of Red Dragon
posted by The Whelk at 4:23 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, in this movie Matt Damon does this thing with FACE and TEETH that makes him a potent mix of like :endearing" and "fucking creepy" that he's never used since.
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2014

No one really uses that word [prep] much anymore, but over the past several years, I’ve started to see its descendants creep up on TikTok, Pinterest, and Instagram. Lithe white people in khaki pants and oxford shirts lounging on a sailboat; tweed blazers inside an Ivy League library; tennis skirts and croquet in front of someone’s summer home; Blair Waldorf and The Talented Mr. Ripley. It goes by different monikers online, sometimes categorized as dark academia (or light academia if it’s a picture of a sunny setting), the WASP look, or the socialite lifestyle, but the descriptor I’m seeing most often is “old money aesthetic.”

"This time it's called the 'old money aesthetic'"
posted by Monochrome at 3:27 PM on June 5, 2022

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