John Malkovich plays Tom Ripley in this incarnation. He is living a life of luxury in Italy,house in a palatial villa with his harpsichordist wife. Two events disrupt his comfortableexistence: the unwelcome re-emergence of former colleague-in-crime Ray Winstone, and a aninsult at a part from leukemia-ridden picture framer Dougray Scott. Winstone wants a criminalrival eliminated, and Ripley, vengeance on his mind, decides that the innocent Scott is just theperson to be manip…lated into being trigger man. When Winstone starts dragging Scott deeperand deeper into killing, Ripley decides the game has gone too far, and decides to help Scott.
Director Liliana Cavani is probably best known for her ludicrous bit of art-house sleaze,The Night Porter. This is a much more successful work, with much less unintentionalcomedy and a powerful charge of suspense building up in the climax. As far as adaptations go,this is closer to Patricia Highsmith’s source novel than Wim Wenders’ version (TheAmerican Friend), and Ripley’s lack of conscience is more faithfully captured than in TheTalented Mr. Ripley. Malkovich makes a marvellous Ripley, his venomous, amoral calmwrapping around the viewer like a fist. A slight quaver in his voice is the only sign of worryduring moments of danger, and serves to make his character all the more impressive.
A very nice audio (in DTS, 5.1 and 2.0), enveloping the viewer without violating thecontrolled cool of the movie. Background noises, such as street sounds in Berlin, are well placedand atmospheric. Ennio Morricone’s score (another hypnotically repetitive effort) is wellhandled, though it is perhaps a bit rear-heavy. The dialogue is undistorted, but needs to be a bitlouder — Malkovich’s purr is sometimes lost.
The colours are sumptuous, and the contrasts, flesh tones and blacks are all beyond reproach.The aspect ratio is a handsome 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. There is some grain, notably in afew exterior shots, and a minor degree of edge enhancement. Generally speaking, the film looksgood, its cold lushness a nice complement to the amorality of its protagonist.
Very disappointing: trailers for the feature, Laws of Attraction, Dinner Rush,About Schmidt and Secondhand Lions. There are also some promotional DVD-ROM features. The menu’s main screen, intro and transitions are animated and scored.
A director and writer commentary would have been really interesting for this release. Still,the transfer is solid, and Malkovich is a joy.
Special Features List
- DVD-ROM Features