A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is about a man posing as another to acquire his wealth and lifestyle – a process that involves homoerotic affairs, murder, and countless lies. Characters drink, smoke, have sex, lie, curse, get in fights and kill one another. Particularly upsetting are two of the murders that involve Tom bludgeoning characters to death. The pacing of the film is rather slow and will likely bore younger viewers used to more contemporary storytelling - despite the presence of teen idol actors.
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What's the story?
Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel of the same name, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY tells the story of Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), a nobody New Yorker hired by the wealthy father of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) to convince Dickie to quit Europe and return to New York. The errand fails, however, and once Tom finds himself soaking up the luxury that characterizes the lives of Dickie and his expatriate friends, he can't bare to tear himself away. Tom, whose talents include forgery and impersonations, grows obsessed with Dickie and his fiancée Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). After Tom is dismissed by Dickie as "a bore," Tom's obsession turns him from mildly creepy to downright criminal.
Is it any good?
The Talented Mr. Ripley is extremely well-executed at most levels. The cast is exceptional throughout, and Matt Damon proves that he is quite capable of playing a sinister role convincingly. Playing the well-heeled, articulate Marge works well for Paltrow, displaying her usual regal presence.
Perhaps the best part about this movie is its exquisite recreation of 1950s Europe. The soundtrack, featuring original music by Gabriel Yared, is rather intoxicating, as viewers are treated to a smorgasbord of sumptuous scenery. Despite its rather excellent production values, Mr. Ripley tends to feel a bit slow. The plot takes a while to unfold, and viewers trained to watch recent films may find it tedious at times. Younger viewers, in particular, will not likely be appreciative of the plot's complexities and might find themselves squirming in their seats within the first hour.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about issues of truth and fiction. Tom Ripley is in some ways a "self-made man," and while his tactics are unsavory, his effort seems in some ways related to the American ideal of being able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Why is Dickie and Marge's life so appealing to Tom? How could he have attained the life he tries to write himself into without lying, cheating, and mudering? What, if anything, do we know about the real Tom Ripley?
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