Ripley's Game (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/05/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 110 mins

The Talented Tom Ripley (John Malkovich) is back. Only this time, he’s trying to persuade someone else to do the killing for him…

Ripley’s Game is the fourth adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels to reach the screen, meaning that the two best novels (The Talented Mr Ripley and Ripley’s Game) have each been filmed twice, both in different languages – 1999’s The Talented Mr Ripley was previously filmed as Plein Soleil with Alain Delon, while Ripley’s Game was The American Friend, with Dennis Hopper.

Talented Mr Forger

Like the book, the film is set a good 25-30 years after The Talented Mr Ripley. Tom Ripley (John Malkovich) is now married to a younger woman (Chiara Caselli, probably the worst thing about the film) and lives in a villa in Northeast Italy, off the profits of forged artworks. And he hasn't killed anyone in, ooh, ages.

Actually, that's not strictly true - the prologue involves him coldly killing someone when an art deal goes wrong, in order to establish both his cold-blooded nature, (for those who haven’t read the books or seen the other movies) and his relationship with cock-er-nee gangster Reeves – Ray Winstone in full-on Sexy Beast mode.

The Game Begins

When Reeves needs a member of the Russian Mafia killed, he turns to Tom. However, Tom has recently been slighted by his neighbour, Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott) and when he discovers that Trevanny has terminal cancer, he decides to see if he can manipulate him into taking on the job for Reeves. And so the “game” begins…

Directed by 70 year-old Liliana Caviani (best known for 1974’s The Night Porter) the film deliberately loses the warmth that The Talented Mr Ripley had, with the skies a permanent shade of grey, reflecting the downbeat mood of the characters.

To Ham Or Not To Ham

Malkovich is superbly cast and thankfully resists the temptation to ham it up Hopkins-style, instead delivering a subtle, under-played performance that’s among his best work. Scott is also good, though his character is necessarily subdued. However, there's a good scene where he gets his sex drive back after the first murder.

The supporting cast includes Lena Heady as Trevanny's wife (pretty good) and Ray Winstone on top form, though there's one scene which, although funny, allows him to go too far. (Standing outside Ripley's locked gate yelling "Fucking let me in, you fuck!")

The film-makers have been pretty faithful to the book, ensuring that fans won’t be disappointed. The set pieces are especially well-handled, particularly the train sequence. Similarly, the strong location work adds to the European feel of the film and it benefits from its distance from the usual Hollywood crap, despite the (frankly, rubbish) poster's attempts to have you believe otherwise. Definitely worth seeing, particularly if you're a Highsmith fan.

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Ripley's Game (15)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 17:58

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