|Category||Thriller||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Rating||Other Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Egypt|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 1 - Anthony Minghella (Director)|
|Running Time||133:23 minutes||Other Extras||Biographies - Cast and Crew
Featurette - Inside The Talented Mr Ripley (21:.35)
Featurette - Making The Soundtrack (8:00)
Main Menu Audio and Animation
Music Video - My Funny Valentine (2:32)
Music Video - Tu Vuo Fa L'Americano (3:07)
Scene Selection Audio and Animation
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Philip Seymour Hoffman
|Case||Ghastly button thing|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 320 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is a nobody who wants to be a somebody ("I would rather be a fake somebody than a real nobody"), but has little means to drag himself out of the basement life that he has - as a bathroom attendant of all things - and does not like. His one great gift is that he can impersonate others, and he uses this ability to really become a fake somebody. Filling in as an accompanist to a classical vocalist at a society bash in New York, he wears a borrowed jacket - from the Class of 56 at Princeton. Amongst the attendees is a certain wealthy ship building magnate whose son also attended Princeton in 1956. By not being forthright in stating how he came to be wearing the jacket, Tom ends up with a little task: to go to Europe (specifically Italy) to encourage the magnate's son, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), to return to the United States - all expenses paid, with $1,000 on top for his trouble. In 1958, that was a lot of money. Dickie is your basic typical bored, rich kid with far too much money and time on his hands and far too little inclination to do the work to earn the money that he has the privilege of throwing around in Italy. He would rather spend time playing on his yacht with his girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow), and generally playing the part of the rich American playboy in Europe, and so Tom finds himself heading to Italy first class by Cunard Lines to meet a guy he would not know from a bar of soap and try to encourage him to return to the good old USA. Along the way he interestingly meets Meredith Logue (Cate Blanchett), a real somebody who desperately wants to be a nobody - and the film heads of in spectacularly turgid fashion down a fairly predictable route of a lie compounding a lie and, in order to keep up a lie, things get far more complicated than they really should be.
This story is well and truly fleshed out by just about every cliché that you can think of about poor rich kids bumming it in Europe. Tom uses his ability to impersonate to become close to Dickie, and learns all the wrong things about what the life of the rich and bored is all about. Dickie is two timing (at the very least) Marge, and this results in at least one dead young Italian woman, unable to live with the fact that she is pregnant to Dickie. Doing the tourist thing in Rome, Dickie meets up with a similarly over-indulged rich kid friend, Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and things start to go awry for Tom. Already in cahoots with Dickie to scam money out of daddy back home, Freddie starts to see through Tom and a wedge starts to be driven between Tom and Dickie. This ultimately leads to an unfortunate accident in a boat that allows Tom to become Dickie and really start compounding lie upon lie, especially as he is now enjoying a lifestyle that he would truly kill for: apartments in Rome and Venice and all the accoutrements of the spoilt rich kid lifestyle. As the disappearance of Dickie starts to close in around him as suspicions gather strength, another unfortunate victim is found and Tom falls easily into the life of a spoilt rich kid murderer. But there is a twist in the end, courtesy of the fact that we all have little skeletons in our closet and it seems Dickie's were just a tad bigger than most - hence the reason why he is actually in Europe. Tom reaps the rewards but the return of Meredith perpetuates yet another minor elimination along the road to true madness.
Having partially suffered the worst of the British class system as a child, as I went to school with many who would later become prime candidates for the bored rich kid syndrome, I am aware of some who did indeed spend their days living the rich playboy life in the Mediterranean. The American class system is even worse, except that they don't admit to having one whilst the British actually celebrate it in many ways. Accordingly, the subject matter is one that I am actually familiar with - and one that I really do not find of the slightest interest in a film. I am quite certain that the book upon which the film is based is a very good one, but sometimes I think that "the studios" forget the reason why we watch films: to be entertained. I watch films for entertainment and this is not entertainment. Watching this sort of stuff is hardly considered to be entertaining unless it is in preference to watching weeds grow, no matter how well it is done. There is no doubt that director Anthony Minghella has done a grand job here - except in perhaps not being quite as judicious as necessary in paring down the screenplay he wrote into something a little more livelier in pace.
There is no doubt that this is in general a quite superbly-acted piece, most especially from Jude Law and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both of whom do a fine job in convincing us of the believability of their playboyish characters. The usually superb Gwyneth Paltrow is perhaps not quite so superb here, but remains very convincing as the welcoming girlfriend who slowly becomes colder and finally accusational as the disappearance of her beloved Dickie bites deeper. Matt Damon does perhaps far too well in the role of the manipulative and conniving Ripley, especially in evoking some of the stirrings of homosexuality in his relationships with Dickie and Peter - or is it just a chameleon changing his spots to suit the situation? Cate Blanchett gets stuck with something of a minor role here, which is a great shame as she plays it well indeed and always deserves more screen time. Whilst the setting is Italy in 1958, and I am completely unfamiliar with the year or the location, being born in 1959 and only ever managing to get to Venice briefly, the images certainly create all the right impressions of the playground for the nouveau riche from the United States, and Anthony Minghella has certainly used them very well indeed. Nicely evocative images are beautifully complemented by a jazzy score that certainly adds to the aura very well indeed.
Overall, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a near-period piece that just fails to convince, owing to the length not being sustainable by the material in the screenplay compounding a subject matter that I find less than entertaining. Others may find a lot more here to enjoy, but this just evokes all those hatreds that I thought I had left behind many years ago when my family emigrated from Blighty. I would hardly call the film entertaining, and for all the greatness in the cast and the images, this is not something that I would willingly be returning to any time soon.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
Whilst I may be wrong, I am guessing that director Anthony Minghella may have filmed this is in such a way as to imitate the style of colour films of the late 1950s, where an over-richness in the tones was not uncommon and oversaturation was usually just a few frames away. Whether by design or by fault, the transfer nonetheless exhibits just about everything I find problematic about colour films of the late 1950s. Whilst the image is not especially sharp, it is a fairly naturalistic looking effort apart from the odd instance where what appears to be edge enhancement seems to be a problem. With the image not being as sharp as perhaps it should have been, some of the gorgeous detail that should otherwise have shone here (inside Tom's apartments for instance) simply does not, and this is a great shame indeed. There are few more beautiful cities on earth than Rome and Venice, and the scenery along the Italian coast is legendary, but you would not know it from the images that are presented here. I really feel that the transfer should have been a lot sharper, and that the film is hampered because it is not. At times, shadow detail was just a little lacking, again a bit of a disappointment. This is anything but a clear transfer and this is what leads me to suggest that the transfer reflects a style of film that was deliberately being sought: grain seems to be a consistent problem in the transfer that I ultimately found to be distracting and bothersome. There did not appear to be any real low level noise problems in the transfer, although they could of course be masked by the grain problem.
As suggested, the tone here is a little over-rich, which is especially used to highlight the bronzed bodies on the beach, for instance. Overall, I felt that the colours were just a little too forced in terms of tone and the result is something that just does not evoke a natural feel at all. There is a decided lack of vibrancy in the colours, again perhaps evoking the style of late 1950s colour films, and this becomes a problem at times when there simply is insufficient contrast in the image. This is noted in scenes such as those at Dickie's house where there is a decided lack of contrast between the foreground and the background garden that really gives a distinctly two dimensional look to the image. At times the image could have done with a lot stronger depth to the black and white tones, and you may find it beneficial to adjust your television contrast just a little to view this DVD. Oversaturation appeared to be on the verge of breaking out big time on a couple of occasions, but thankfully it was controlled enough not to become a problem. There was a distinct problem early on in the film as Tom plays the piano inside the theatre, well overlit by bright blue light (notorious for oversaturation problems). Colour bleed did not appear to be a problem here.
There are no readily apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are however some real problems with film-to-video artefacts throughout the transfer. Whilst there was nothing that in itself that would be considered bad, there is a consistent problem with shimmering in the transfer that simply becomes too apparent early on and hampers the image throughout the transfer. This was especially noticeable in scenes involving horizontal lines - which are extremely prevalent in the film, unfortunately. Since this is a very recent film, film artefacts were not much of a problem here at all.
This is an RSDL formatted disc, with the layer change coming at 82:46. It is a nicely placed change that is not really noticeable and does not disrupt the flow of the film at all.
There are three audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and the Audio Commentary soundtrack, whilst briefly sampling the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, although there was some judicious use of the volume control on a couple of occasions.
There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.
The original music score comes from Gabriel Yared, but this whole film is dominated by the rather cool jazz on offer. As a result, Yared also invokes a lot of jazz style into the orchestral score and this ends up as a very jazzy feeling soundtrack that evokes the coolness of the late 1950s and early 1960s in Europe. Some of the jazz stuff is really terrific and both Jude Law and Matt Damon get to sing a tad here, and in the case of Jude Law, play a little sax. It is a really nice soundtrack that does not sound dated, despite using the music so tied to the period. This is about the one area in which I could indulge in this film again, and it is a real shame that there is no isolated music score on offer here.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack suffers a little from some over-resonant and slightly extraneous bass at times, but is otherwise quite decent. Surround channel use is not spectacular at all, and the film really suffers from the lack of great rear channel ambience in many scenes, the cafe on the plaza being a good example. Bass channel use was rather restrained in general, although there is not much scope for usage here as this is very much a dialogue-based film. The overall sound picture is reasonably natural, although it perhaps could have benefited a little more from better use of the front surround channels. Other than that, this is a typical soundtrack with nothing much to elevate it above merely being good.
A pretty good video transfer but with plenty of annoying problems.
A pretty good audio transfer.
A decent extras package, unless you are looking for quality.
© Ian Morris (have a
laugh, check out the bio)
6th August 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|