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RIPLEY COULD BE OSCAR WINNER

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The acclaimed and very talented novelist, Patricia Highsmith, from whose book, "The Talented Mr. Ripley " was taken, has been called by The New Yorker, magazine, a novelist whose books are "peerlessly disturbing." Another source says that "calling Highsmith a mystery writer, would be a bit like calling Picasso a draftsman."
This movie adaptation of Highsmith's novel, from all reports, bears out the author's own talent. It is flooded with Academy Award winners, for one thing. Granted this is no measure of actual talent, it nonetheless sports an impressive array of winners. It is this cast of winners that has the critics dumbfounded. Their comments regarding the acting range from "charismatic" to "lackluster," especially regarding the lead actors, Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Directed by Anthony Minghella, of "English Patient" fame, it stars Damon as Ripley, the "charismatic" imposter to be, Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, an expatriate playboy playing in Italy, Paltrow, as Dickie's girlfriend, Marge, Cate Blanchett as a vacationing American and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a truly snotty blue blood.
This cast of characters is assembled in Italy where Ripley has been sent by Highsmith's father to bring his errant son back home. Highsmith senior hires Ripley believing him to be a "Princeton Man." Ripley is actually a ne'er do well piano tuner and sometime musician.
This is all a wonderful change of pace for the misbegotten piano tuner, who soon finds himself in the "la dolce vita" Italy of the late '50s. Minghella's cinematography and the lush surroundings mirror an almost idyllic landscape, but it is soon laced with a lurking foreboding, as Ripley begins to enjoy Dickie's lifestyle, to say nothing of an attraction to Dickie, himself. Ripley decides to make this lifestyle, or more than the lifestyle, his own, with the thought that "it's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody." And here the intrigue begins, as Ripley gradually conceives his murderous plot.
Some may remember the '50's film, "Strangers on a Train," also written by Highsmith, and one of Hitchcock's best, which starred Farley Granger, to whom Damon bears a resemblance. Uncanny? Maybe. Perhaps that's just casting.
The film has been called "Hitchcock Lite," or "Hitchcock on Holiday." Whatever, it's bound to be up there on stage for the Oscars this year.
It starts at Market Square East Thursday.

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