Anthony MinghellaUSA139 minutes1999ColourEnglish
Fresh off his Oscar-winning success with The English Patient, Anthony Minghella both wrote and directed this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's first Tom Ripley novel, which had previously been filmed by René Clément as Purple Noon in 1960. (You can compare and contrast the two adaptations when the Clément version screens as part of this season's French crime cinema series.) At loose ends and in dire financial straits after graduating from Princeton, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is commissioned by a wealthy shipbuilder to retrieve his wastrel son Dickie (Jude Law) from a life of decadence and dissolution in Europe. Befriending Dickie and his fiancée (Gwyneth Paltrow) in Italy, Tom comes to love his new pal's monied, ex-pat lifestyle — and when push comes to shove (comes to bludgeon), he finds that he is capable of committing murder in order to have it for himself. With floppy blond hair, spectacles and nervous manner, Damon is considerably closer to Highsmith's original conception of Ripley than was Alain Delon's absurdly handsome charmer in Purple Noon, and he's ably assisted by Law, Paltrow, and not-quite-yet-stars Philip Seymour Hoffman (as Dickie's snobbish pal) and Cate Blanchett (affecting as a high-society heiress with eyes for Ripley).