Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is a thoroughly bad man, totally amoral but charming with it. He is also ambitious: he wants to be rich and he wants to be someone else. The man he decides he wants to be is Dick Greenleaf (Jude Law), who has everything Ripley desires – wealth, a sybaritic lifestyle and beautiful women, notably Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett. Anthony Minghella’s smart, stylish film, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, tells how he sets about achieving this aim, a process that involves lavish settings in Europe, multiple lies, subterfuge and murder. In most movies you wouldn’t want him to get away with it but here you do, thanks to a skilled performance by Damon, who can be by turns bland, charismatic and very dangerous. And because we see everything through Ripley’s eyes we somehow become complicit with him. It was a breakthrough performance by Damon, and Law, ostensibly charming but not particularly nice, is just as good.
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