Original release: December 25th, 1999
Running time: 139 minutes
Writer and director: Anthony Minghella
Cast: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Davenport
Peter and Tom: 02:00:00 to 02:08:30
Actors are very strange birds and even odder still when they covet a role in a play or film. Deep in the heart they know the moment that they could have made the part more alive, real, tragic.
Seldom too they stand back and say that was absolutely perfect.
This brings us the film I will be talking about this evening, The Talented Mr. Ripley and the Tom Ripley of Matt Damon.
The film in a word is perfect. Locations, divine, costumes, you would love to wear, lighting, music, passion, greed, lust, betrayal, murder and finally redemption.
It is the redemption of Tom of which I would like to think about and so we’ll go to the last scene in the film where Peter and Tom are sailing away into their happy ending. After murdering Freddy and Dickie Greenleaf, we still root for Tom.
As Marge faces utter collapse in her knowledge that Tom is in fact the murderer of Dickie and not only will he not be caught, he will be rewarded by Mr. Greenleaf and given Dickie’s inheritance
But alas it is not to be for Tom Ripley is cursed. As he and Peter sail away to safety, tucked warmly in their suite aboard a cruiser, Tom spots Meridith and Meredith spots the impostor Dickie Greenleaf… Immediately she brings him to her family and the game must begin again. The game is survival.
Tom returns to the suite, where he is gently confronted by Peter about knowing Meridith. Tom denies the friendship, wrapping Peter in his arms when he will in just a few seconds strangle him to death, forge a suicide note and hang Peter Smith Kingsley in the closet…to be found by a steward; a victim of his own self hate and loathing.
He sits on the bed, leans against Peter. His eyes are brimming with tears. He takes the cord from Peter’s robe and begins twisting it in his hands.
Tom is pressing against him, moving up his body, kisses his shoulder, the cord wrapped tight in his hands…
Tom returns to his cabin. Sits on the bed, desolate.
Tom will resume, for a while at least, his life as Dickie Greenleaf. It is in this last moment that the actor truly elevates the role and in my mind becomes a masterwork. As he sits staring at the fractured mirror and the splintered pieces of his personality, Tom begins to grieve, we see his loss, his love for Peter, his chance at happiness gone…he has feelings.
Many actors and directors would chosen to have Tom be completely blank at this moment, thus giving us the opportunity to label him a borderline personality, a serial killer.
Tom killed out of survival and we still want him to win, to be free…to see that he is in fact equal to or really a cut above that which he aspires too. It is in this moment that Matt Damon makes Tom Ripley unforgettable.
Mark Patton is a native of Kansas City, Missouri and is best know as Jesse Walsh in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Joe Qualley in Robert Altman’s Broadway and film production of Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean with Cher, Kathy Bates, Karen Black and Sandy Dennis.
Mark left show business until he was discovered living in Mexico by the team that produced Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy. In the feature length documentary Mark spoke at length about the homosexual subtext of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and generally kicked some ass in regards to people being a little more honest in their memories. The segment is regard by many fans as one of the highlights in the documentary.
Mark has become active on the convention circuit; he participates in The Scream Queens panel and is having a fantastic time. He began filming the lead in a new film in November 2011 and is currently shooting a documentary called There is NO Jesse with filming is taking place around the world.
You can follow Mark on Twitter @_MarkPatton.