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Coming back to some of Philip Seymor Hoffman’s earlier films, I realised that I have actually never seen this “Mr Ripley”, very odd, but maybe to be explained by the fact that it is based on a Patricia Highsmith story, which I generally do not appreciate too much.

Knowing the general thrust of the story, I did not find myself surprised too often, and there was a point around minute 90 where I thought that this would have been a very nice film would it stop here. It carried on for quite a bit longer, and I felt it somehow lost the density of its plot in that extra time and the extra locations. It still is quite entertaining, despite the fact that considerable level of suspension of disbelief is frequently required to go along with all the ways Ripley manages to avoid his double identity blowing into his face. Whenever that happens, there is the chance to get distracted in the beautiful shots proudly presented by the Italian tourism board, which certainly must have been quite happy about the display of living wealthy and cultured lives in their villages and cities.

As happened so frequently: Hoffman steals the scenes, he is probably on screen no longer than 15 minutes altogether, but he is energetic and dynamic and sly, and is the only person to manage having me take a position in the plot: I did not care too much who of all the obnoxious characters the script is full of will have the better end, but when Hoffman’s Freddie Miles comes on, I was a fanboy right away. He is also obnoxious and annoying, but in a nice and honest way, a bonvivant you want to hang out with and benefit from. Babyfaced Matt Damon is no match, and the strength of the script is maybe that it makes audience sympathies turn at some point, and accept Ripley as what he is, a liar, a cheat, a murderer.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/talented_mr_ripley/

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