Yes, it’s Minghella’s follow-up to 1996’s Oscar-rich ”The English Patient,” but don’t expect a tale of heroism and chivalry. It sounds much more interesting than that. In this opulent adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 cult novel, Damon stars as Tom Ripley, who could be the most likable antihero since a certain other bad guy with good taste chewed his way through ”The Silence of the Lambs.”
”Reading the book, you’re allowed to take pleasure in Ripley like you’d take pleasure in Hannibal Lecter,” says Damon. ”He’s amoral but totally fascinating.” Damon’s title character is a sophisticated young American who’s sent to Italy in the 1950s to retrieve an old school friend named Dickie Greenleaf (Law). When Ripley finds him, he falls in love with both Dickie’s posh life and Dickie himself, so he decides to kill him and assume his identity.
Of course, it won’t be just Ripley’s deliciously evil deeds that suck audiences in. The film also stars such easy-on-the-eyes members of Hollywood’s young A list as Paltrow and Blanchett. ”I cast Matt before ‘Good Will Hunting,’ Gwyneth before ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ and Cate before ‘Elizabeth,”’ says Minghella, ”so the casting of this actually makes me look much more clever than I am.” BUZZ FACTOR: 8
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