Underrated psychological thriller features great cast, storyline

A young Matt Damon stars in the morally challenging film.

A young Matt Damon stars in the morally challenging film.

Among the Netflix rubbish of parasitic sequels to Disney movies and boring documentaries with good intentions lies a fantastic psychological thriller, promoted by the young, crisp face of Matt Damon.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” directed by the talented Anthony Minghella, is rated with three and a half stars on Netflix, but it deserves a much higher rating.  The film boasts three brutal murder scenes, confusing love affairs and the handsome face of Matt Damon contorting in anger, sorrow and lust.

The film, which takes place mostly in Italy, portrays Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) as a callow New York pianist who is prompted by Herbert Greenleaf, an affluent ship builder, to travel to Italy and convince his son Dickie (Jude Law) to return home. In need of the money Greenleaf offers him to do so, Ripley journeys to Italy and cleverly befriends Dickey and his lover Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). Rather than convincing Dickey to return to New York, Tom develops an infatuation with Dickie and his rich, hedonistic lifestyle. Through Damon’s appealing smile and his character’s sharpness of mind, Minghella carefully pressures viewers of the film to root for anti-hero Tom Ripley, though he lies, murders and steals without regret. The end of the film leaves viewers with an internal struggle when they must decide between listening to their conscience or surrendering to aesthetic appeal.

Despite the internal moral dilemma that “The Talented Mr. Ripley” evokes in viewers, the movie is quite enjoyable. Shot in southern Italy, the film offers viewers a spirited depiction of life during the 1950s there, for the wealthy, jazz-loving son of Herbert Greenleaf in the cusp of his youth. Frequent in the film are mesmerizing scenes containing the unadorned yet naturally stunning face of Gwyneth Paltrow sans eyeliner, lipstick and mascara. Paltrow’s scenes should serve as a symbol of natural beauty to both male and female viewers. Another topic presented in the movie by Minghella is that of self-acceptance. When Tom Ripley stops posing as heterosexual, he finds a lover and his unhappiness ends. Overall, The Talented Mr. Ripley deserves five Netflix stars; it is engaging, thrilling and symbolic.