Ripley's game is art. An American aesthete living in a Palladian villa in Tuscany, he is surrounded by beautiful objects, the bounty of his exquisite taste and shady business dealings. His British neighbour, Jonathan Trevanny (Scott), has made the egregious error of insulting him in public; so when Ripley needs a fall guy to execute a typically shady transaction, Jonathan immediately comes to mind. Better, he's terminally ill, more than enough leverage for an operator of Ripley's finesse. Patricia Highsmith herself was no great fan of Wim Wenders' free translation of her novel, The American Friend; and Cavani's adaptation takes fewer liberties with the original. It's less personal and less striking, but it does have one ace up its sleeve: Malkovich has been playing Tom Ripley all his life, so it's high time he took the credit for it. Narcissistic, amoral and a brilliant improviser, this Ripley wouldn't be caught dead with his cinematic antecedents, Dennis Hopper and Matt Damon (despite the conspicuously heterosexual distraction of Chiara Caselli, I fancy Alain Delon might get a look in). This is a great role, and connoisseur that he is, Malkovich relishes every second - witness the way he demonstrates his prized mantraps with an unfortunate baguette. It's somehow appropriate that the film doubles as an acting master class, with the American frankly running rings around an uninterested Ray Winstone and dour Dougray Scott. Trashy and supercilious, it's a guilty pleasure.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Charles McKeown, Liliana Cavani|