Talented Mr. Ripley, The (UK - BD RB)
Marcus starts his Miramax catalogue reviews with Matt Damon fibbing a lot
Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) has talents. Forgery, lying and impersonation and with his burning desire to be something other than a nobody who works in a basement he’ll settle for being somebody else. After meeting wealthy shipbuilder Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn), Ripley convinces him that he knows his son Dickie (Jude Law). Greenleaf sends Ripley to Italy to convince his son to come back to New York and upon Ripley meeting Dickie and his girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) the trio hit it off and become inseparable friends. Things turn nasty when Dickie begins to feel uncomfortable around Ripley’s off beat strangeness and when the tension comes to a head, Ripley takes advantage of a devastating situation and acquires the life of Dickie Greenleaf. How long can Ripley keep this up and will his actions to hide the truth be his undoing?
Confession time folks. I’d never seen The Talented Mr. Ripley before I received this review disc (I know, crazy right?). Maybe it was 1999 being a year brimming with great films, my weird ‘not bothered’ initial response to Matt Damon films (only to watch them and think they and indeed he is great most of the time), my indifference towards Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow generally or maybe it was just one of those things that happen from time to time but whatever it was, I’ve seen it now and honestly I feel like a fool for missing it.
Weirdly my last review was The Roommate, a story about an obsessed individual trying to take over someone else’s life or at least be a big part of it. In that review I said that all this stuff is predictable and a bit dull but The Talented Mr. Ripley is exactly how to do it right. The well crafted screenplay, the fantastic performances and a movie that sort of feels timeless in its 1950s setting, makes its obsessed lead interesting, complex and strangely, despite his darker acts someone I wanted to see achieve some sort of happiness.
We are allowed to like Ripley and that really sets up the drama here. Whoever he ends up killing are always pretty deserving and even though Ripley’s lies and crimes affect a fair few ‘good’ people somehow you still want Ripley to find the love and acceptance he’s looking for. Matt Damon really owns this role and is probably more playful and loose than I’ve seen him in anything, Jude Law is still that over confident drama school guy he always is but it works well here for the character and then there’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman who blows everyone out of the water with his awesome douchery (that’s a word!) Seriously Hoffman hasn’t got all that much screen time here but he rinses every second of it and his face off with Ripley is pure gold.
The Talented Mr Ripley was a surprise. A movie I just let slip by actually had me engaged at every turn. I cared about the secrets and lies that developed and Minghella’s handing of the whole thing was wonderful. I especially liked how scarily real he made the more gruesome scenes feel. The visuals were probably more impactful than most gore fest horrors and I really felt the tension of these darker moments. The tightening of Ripley's situation was thoroughly effective. His destined to fail love affairs and the ease of how he integrated into the world around him all fascinating. So all in all I’m liking a movie I should have seen twelve years a go a whole lot, so this, the first of my Miramax marathon this week gets a glowing review film wise but how does the first of these Miramax titles hold up on their new HD home?
Okay bad news folks. The Talented Mr. Riply isn’t a very good Blu-ray presentation at all. The best word to describe it is ‘grubby’. The image is full of quite natural looking colours but light sources barely register as anything special. Edges are soft and for what is a classicly shot film, it really can feel flat and in desperate need of some love. There are a handful of scenes that have over-powering grain, there’s the odd bit of dirt from time to time and for the most part this is hard to even register as HD.
Trying to find the positive however, there are small glimmers. Matt Damon’s blue eyes really do pop in a lot of his close ups, the interior scenes fare much better than the exterior ones and in small instances can look pretty great. There are some solid blacks in the shadows but this isn’t really consistent enough to hype up and even though some scenes offer some finer details (Gwyneth’s freckles or actors' skin textures) this often feels like a mere hint as to what is actually on show because some other element in the shot will have almost zero real detail, such as the water droplets on Marge’s skin when she talks to Tom on the boat after swimming, which you know are there but only just about register.
Well even though the video is a failure the audio track actually winds up being quite strong. The playful score dots around speakers to pull the audience into the momentum of the movie and when those jazz numbers kick in, especially the live ones, the mix really comes to life. Utterly realistic sounding trumpets and saxophones ring perfectly though the speakers. When Tom and Dickie sing with a friend in the jazz club you can immediately single out the individual voices with ease and small intricacies in the score, like the sharp piano strikes when Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character is rumbling Tom’s game work wonders. Alongside all that the dialogue is always strong in the centre speakers and can spread well depending on volumes and even though it’s not a powerhouse of a track there’s a nice level of bass too, making this a good little audio presentation.
Well the commentary with Anthony Minghella is an absolute joy. He balances every element of this movie perfectly, flitting between the screenplay, the visuals, filmmaking and the unravelling of the film in such an informative way that it genuinely makes it an essential listen for lovers of the film or indeed filmmaking. Great stuff.
The ‘Cast and Crew Interviews’ (14:04 SD) which is a collection of interviews taken from press junkets but is still full of interesting little facts about the production and the feelings about the story.
The teaser trailer (01:56) and the full length trailer (02:20 SD) bring back memories of good ol’ nineties trailers. The full length trailer is especially typical of the time with inspiring voiceover guy making this sound like an upbeat family adventure.
‘Inside the Talented Mr Ripley’ (21:36 SD) is another nineties nostalgia trip. Seeing all the cast looking so young (except Paltrow who must be a vampire because she hasn’t aged at all) and having the same inspiring voiceover guy narrating us through the making of is just great. The actual content is the usual fluff that all but tells us the story but seeing an old making of like this made me smile.
‘Making of the Soundtrack’ (08:00 SD) delves into Minghella’s love of music and the making of Gabriel Yared’s score and musical choices. It’s an upbeat look at the process and is a is a fun eight minutes.
Well part one of my Miramax catalogue Blu-ray releases turned out to be a great film with great extras. The audio is solid but the transfer here is a mess. I'm inclined to say if you have the DVD with the same features already the upgrade probably isn't worth it but having never seen the film before this review I don't want to commit to that as the DVD might have been worse than this (hard to imagine). There are splatterings of HD goodness to be found here but they are few and far between and this great movie deserved a bit more love.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 19th September 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Extras: Commentary, Featurettes, Trailers.
Easter Egg: No
Director: Anthony Minghella
Cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport
Genre: Drama and Thriller
Length: 136 minutes
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