Ripley’s Game
3˝ out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
older, wiser, more talented Based on a much later series of events in the life of the talented Mr Ripley, this film boasts another of Patricia Highsmith's cleverly Hitchcockian plots but lacks the spark and energy of Anthony Minghella's earlier film. An older and wiser Tom Ripley (Malkovich) now lives in opulence in northern Italy with his wife Luisa (Caselli). But when annoying former cohort Reeves (Winstone) comes back into his life, Ripley plays a little "joke" on his naive British neighbour Jonathan (Scott), who happens to be dying of leukaemia: He suggests to Reeves that Jonathan can carry out a hit on a Russian mafioso. Soon events are spiralling out of control ... can Ripley maintain his constant cool and get them all out of it?

Cavani films the story elegantly, making nice use of the settings in both Italy and Berlin, coaxing understated, insinuating performances out of the cast and keeping things ticking ahead on two levels--what we see and what's really happening. There's a gentle stream of black humour and sly wit, although scenes progress with an almost painful slowness and tranquillity, despite the gruesome death lurking around every corner. In this sense, the film is very much like Hitchcock (especially the extended, increasingly tense train sequence). Even with their subdued energy, the cast is good. Malkovich does his Dangerous Liaisons slick-slimy routine, reining in his usual scene-chewing for more restrained displays of brainy humour. Winstone does virtually the same character he did so well in Sexy Beast, only this time with about half the brain cells; his bumbling British thug is great fun to watch. And Scott plays against type as a mopey blob of a man, dragged from innocence to guilt by one bad decision. With just a slight sense of pacing, this could have been a terrific dramatic thriller. As is, it's fascinating and entertaining, but rather dull as well.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sex 14.Apr.03

dir Liliana Cavani
scr Liliana Cavani, Charles McKeown
with John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone, Lena Headey, Chiara Caselli, Sam Blitz, Evelina Meghnagi, Paolo Paoloni, Maurizio Luca, Yurij Rosstalnyi, Nickolaus Deutsch, Lutz Winde
release UK 30.May.03
02/Italy 1h40

You think? Jonathan (Scott) isn't terribly sure about anything Ripley (Malkovich) tells him...

malkovich scott winstone
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... older, wiser, more talented "I did not think it was that slow. It was more than black humor and a thriller. It presents a critical view of what civilization does to our innocence. 'After all, we are two civilized men.' So says Tom Ripley after burning three bodies. He then goes to attend a classic concert and the film ends with the beautiful old Italian architect." --Hany Kirolous, Sussex 1.Jun.03

"This is a thoroughly absorbing and skillfully crafted adaptation of Highsmith's novel that is the complete antithesis of current Hollywood cliches. Fine performances all round and excellent direction and camerawork are major pluses. Have not enjoyed a visit to the cinema for a good few years. Highly recommended especially for those wanting to see something that doesn't insult your intelligence." --Barry Appleby, Sweden 5.Aug.03

© 2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall