"English Patient" director Anthony Minghella has made a wonderful thriller in "The Talented Mr. Ripley"; although it does get a little too lengthy, it still entertains via vibrant and lively performances from the three main leads. The film revolves around a young con artist named Tom Ripley. As the picture opens, Ripley is made an offer by a rich father to go to Italy to retrieve his son, who has run away with a beautiful young woman named Marge(Gwyneth Paltrow).
The young American finds himself falling in love with his beautiful surroundings and enjoying the life that his new hosts present him with. Soon though, when things begin to fall apart, Tom reveals his evil nature, and has to keep things going, improvising solutions to keep himself out of trouble.
Damon is excellent as Ripley, a character who at first appears like a rather flat and unauthoritative presence, but then begins to take on aspects of the personalities of others. There is a scene early on in the film were Ripley is able to impersonate Dickie's father close enough to scare him. We see him softly and quietly absorbing the world around him, and it's not as much what he says and what he doesn't say that makes for an intense character.
As for the rest of the cast, they do fine work as well. Jude Law ("Gattaca") is excellent as Dickie, a man who can be both warm and outgoing and suddenly, cold and withdrawn as he moves onto the next friend. This is neither Paltrow's largest or most complex role, but she does very well what what they character offers.
The film runs nearly two and a half hours, but never really feels slow or dull, because it is so engaging and involving. Although I didn't much care for "The English Patient"'s pace, the director has added enough intensity to "Ripley"'s proceedings so that although it does have a slight point or two where it is a little slow, it certainly never drags or becomes dull. I definitely liked the film quite a bit, an intelligent and well-acted film that I wish I'd seen in the theater.
VIDEO: There are some very minor problems with the transfer, but against the rest of the presentation, which looks stunning, they really almost dissapear completely. Paramount has been improving each time out, and paired with a film that has such beautiful locations as this one, they've made a perfect match. Images are wonderfully sharp and smooth; detail is excellent and clarity is fantastic. The scenery is breathtaking, and the transfer reveals every single detail of the surrounding area. Colors are also phenomenal, looking fresh, bright and natural, showing no signs of bleeding or any other problems. Flesh tones are lovely(Paltrow looks great) and natural. Black level is solid as well.
There are a few small problems; a tiny bit of shimmer and a mark or two on the print used. There's no pixelation and although there is a slight bit of grain visible, it's not distracting. This is really very beautiful work from Paramount that is a pleasure to watch.
SOUND: "The Talented Mr. Ripley" offers a subtle but very effective audio presentation. As expected, it's not extremely agressive or offering much bass, but the audio does have strong moments. Surround use is occasional and enjoyable, adding to the evironment and never overdoing it. The score from Gabriel Yared comes through with the utmost clarity, and sounds wonderfully well-recorded. Dialogue is clear and natural, as well. A very effective and enjoyable soundtrack.
MENUS:: Non-animated menus that use images from the movie; it's not a problem that menus for a film like this are not animated, but it would have been a nice touch to have the score playing in the background.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Anthony Minghella this is extremely informative and although a little slow at times, generally very enjoyable to listen to. He splits the time very nicely between issues that confronted him with the actors and the story, as well as tales from the production and problems he faced making the picture.
Otherwise, he chats and analyzes about the characters and story, offering a very informative and detailed look at his thought process behind the story as well as the themes of the film. The director has a wonderful way of breaking down each and every scene to give his opinion of the intentions and thoughts going on with each of the characters. In terms of characters, he also chats occasionally about the original novel. In terms of production issues, the director talks about work with locations and also, about taking the film down from a larger, longer picture.
There are a few pauses during this commentary, but they are very small - the director really keeps the discussion going for the great majority of the picture.It's a very good commentary that gives us a deeper look at the layers that make up "Ripley".
Inside the Talented Mr. Ripley: A documentary that runs about 20 minutes that is generally promotional, but also does provide some good interviews with the entire cast as well as the director. We are also taken on location to watch some of the scenes being filmed. I would have liked to have a few less actual scenes from the movie throughout the documentary and more information offered, but in general, this is a worth a look.
Trailers The teaser and theatrical trailer.
Music Videos: Videos for "My Funny Valentine" and "Tu Vuo Fa L'Americano".
Cast and Crew Interviews: Playing out like another complete documentary, this section offers a lot of interview segements with members of the cast as well as the director, who share their stories about the history of the production as well as their characters. Definitely a very nice additional feature that lasts a little under 15 minutes.
Making Of The Soundtrack: A short 8 minute promotional featurette about how music helped to set the tone of the movie and was played during production. Interviews with Damon as well as other members of the crew are included, and their thoughts on what music contributed to this tale is quite interesting to listen to.
Final Thoughts: "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a very entertaining thriller, and I think the DVD by Paramount has covered everything well; excellent audio and video quality, along with a fine selection of extra features. Recommended.