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It may have come in for some criticism at the time for its diversions from Patricia Highsmith’s original novel, but Anthony Minghella’s thoughtful and unsettling adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley still stands as a career high point for practically everybody involved. Cast against type as a sociopathic murderer, a young Matt Damon manages to create a chilling yet somewhat sympathetic portrayal of the title character as he insinuates himself into the privileged inner circle of a group of wealthy American youths, only to end up destroying their lives and his own.
The movie is also a nice reminder of a time before Gwyneth Paltrow forgot how to act – she won the Oscar the year The Talented Mr Ripley was released for her role in Shakespeare In Love, but as Dickie’s initially warm but increasingly suspicious fiancé Marge, she’s actually even better. Likewise, Cate Blanchett injects an impressive level of detail into the potentially two-dimensional character of clueless rich girl Meredith Logue, while Jude Law was never more magnetic onscreen than he was as the petulant but charming Dickie Greenleaf.
And then there’s the magnificent Philip Seymour Hoffman, who very nearly steals the picture with only a handful of scenes. His compellingly horrible Freddie Miles in the only character to pretty much instantly see through Tom Ripley’s facade, and spends the rest of his time in the movie gleefully toying with him like a half-bored cat with a mouse. You could build an entire movie around his character alone…
However, that’s not the direction either of us took this week. Instead, we accidentally formed a nice little trilogy with the original movie at the centre, including a Tom Ripley origin story that may or may not play a little fast and loose with various timelines, and a sequel that catches up with a forty-something Ripley in the Disco-fuelled seventies. Needless to say, none of this bears any relation whatsoever to the Patricia Highsmith novel series. We’re not saying our ideas are better, but…
Harry’s Pitch | The Talented Mr Thor
John’s Pitch | The Talented Mr Ripley 2: Tom Ripley’s Disco Years
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We also want to hear your ideas for a sequel, prequel or spin-off from this underrated late 90s thriller. Send us your pitches via Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section below and we’ll give the best ones a shout out on a future episode.