Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ripley's Game


Directed by Liliani Cavani

Liliani Cavani's take on Patricia Highsmith's popular sociopath Tom Ripley is way less fun than it should be, a tame and rarely interesting film that wastes the potential of Highsmith's character.

Ripley (John Malkovich) is back, this time in Italy where he is playing his trade as an art dealer/criminal and living in a vast but incredibly tacky villa with his wife Luisa. After being insulted by his neighbour Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott), Malkovich decides to recruit the poor chap to perform a hit for gangster Reeves (Ray Winstone). After performing the hit, Trevanny falls deeper and deeper in with Reeves and Ripley, even as Ripley tries to keep the coming fallout from the gang war out of his (villa’s) backyard.

Ripley’s Game” reminded me a lot of “The Tailor of Panama”. Not that the two stories are similar—they aren’t in the least bit—but rather in that the film adaptations of both are rather boring. I’m not sure what it is about the adaptation of thrillers but many of them seem to translate poorly to the big screen. It may be that building the type of suspense that novelists like Highsmith are famous for is easier over 200-300 page novel than it is in a 90-100 minute film. Regardless, “Ripley’s Game” left me feeling fairly cold, much like Ripley himself, just without the murderous tendencies.

Malkovich’s Ripley is probably truer to Highsmith’s original character than say, Dennis Hopper’s was in “The American Friend”, but it isn’t any more interesting, that’s for sure. The rest of the cast didn’t do it for me either. Dougray Scott’s dramatic turn as the cancer stricken family man Jonathan Trevanny clashed harshly with Malkovich’s low key, effeminate Ripley. The best casting move in “Ripley’s Game” was picking Ray Winstone for the role of Reeves, Ripley’s hapless partner in crime. If there had been more of Winstone and less of Malkovich, Scott, and basically everyone else it might have been a better film. Or maybe it would have just been more like “Sexy Beast”, which would have been fine with me.

No comments: