At the Movies

Today the offering is a more contemporary movie (1999). Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley is in my book a mini masterpiece of suspense. Like a modern Hitchcock, this film is a pleasure to watch for the aesthetics as much as the acting and plot. Beautifully directed by Anthony Minghella, the movie was shot all across Italy – from Venice, Tuscany and Rome, to Naples and the islands of Ischia and Procida in the Gulf of Naples, and Palermo in Sicily. Director of photography John Seale, who won an academy award for his work with Minghella on The English Patient did a brilliant job of romanticizing the already fabulous scenery and the soundtrack by Gabriel Yared, who also won an Oscar for the English Patient, is intoxicating. Not to mention all you stylish readers will be happy to hear that there are also fabulous costumes and accessories by costume designer, Ann Roth, yet another academy award winner from the English Patient.

If you are not familiar with the film, let me give you just a tiny bit of an introduction. Set in the 1950s, it is about uppercrust, young American expats living the dolce vita in Italy. Outsider Tom Ripley, played brilliantly by Matt Damon, is sent to retrieve one of them, Jude Law, back from Italy, by his wealthy father. But things don’t go exactly as expected. I know that’s not much of a teaser, but I really don’t want to give much away.

In addition to Damon and Law, the film features an all star cast with Gwyneth Paltrow, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cate Blanchett.

Minghella explained what appealed to him in Highsmith’s novel – “Most of us, I think, are disappointed with ourselves at some point, feel inferior in some way, at the edge of things and wish we were someone else. It’s something we can all empathize with, and it’s what really fascinated me with the story.” If that isn’t enticement enough, Graham Greene explained that “[Highsmith] has created a world of her own–a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger.”

I suspect that many of you who are seeing this for the first time, will want to order a copy for yourself – like any great interior, you’ll want to be able to go back and review all the details that you missed the first time – and trust me, there are quite a few!

Happy viewing and as always, please feel free to report back! I’m still waiting for reviews from last week’s selection.

24 thoughts on “At the Movies

  1. I agree it is a fabulous film with such old fashioned elegance.
    Thank you very much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment on what is behind those Paris doors! The first picture was very lucky as those gorgeous spots do shut their doors very smartly!

  2. I really enjoyed this movie – the costumes, the scenery, the locations. Matt Damon so embodied this character that it actually made me squirm! Such a great actor with an amazing ensemble cast.

    Love to curl up with a good movie this time of year! Cheers to the weekend!

    • Hi Elizabeth – yes he was great, as was everyone else. Your party looks like it was a huge success! So sorry I missed it – next time!

  3. Brava, Q! Last week you featured my favorite book, this week it is my favorite movie! Having lived in Italy for several years, I watch the film sometimes just to get my “italian” fix. Every aspect is perfect. There is a cafe scene in which Gwyneth Paltrow is carrying the most spectacular alligator handbag. I wish there would be a sale of the wardrobe and set accoutrements used for the movie. va benissimo!

    • Hi Elle – We’re obviously on the same page! You’re too funny – what a great idea that would have been to sell the wardrobe!

    • Hi Haleigh – yes, beautiful. I think next time, I’ll try and pick something not everyone has seen. But glad to serve a a reminder!

  4. I LOVE this movie and haven’t seen in a while…thanks for reminder!

    thanks for stopping by CCD the other day–nice to meet you, your blog is gorgeous!

    • Hi Ami – thanks! This is one of those movies you could watch many many times (which I have), there’s so much to see!

    • Sue – I guarantee you will love this – especially visually. Love you’re getting so much press for the store!!

  5. One of the creepiest, most enjoyable movies ever. All three actors—then not nearly as well known—played perfectly the character’s of Ms. Highsmith’s equally creepy book. I remember leaving the theater and my mother asking me what I thought of the movie and I told her I felt “dirty.” I felt as I had somehow been an accomplice to what takes place in the show. I have the whole series (there are 4 books) and couldn’t bear to complete the first!

    • Duchyt – I’ve never read the books so didn’t see it from that perspective. The movie certainly had a creepy aspect but it was so visually magnificent that it didn’t leave me with quite that feeling – but there is definitely an evil element.

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