Murderous Mr Ripley prepares to make a return

Preview by Jack Foley

2003 has already been dubbed the year of the sequel, given the amount of follow-ups we are expecting next year. Films such as The Fast and The Furious 2, X-Men 2 and The Matrix sequels are already generating a lot of buzz, while the far-off likes of the final Lord of the Rings movie look set to ensure that things end the year, pretty much the same way they began - with elves at the top of the Box Office.

But one 'sequel' which hasn't generated much coverage thus far is probably going to be one of the more intelligent, less crowd-pleasing movies of 2003 - Ripley's Game, the follow-up to Matt Damon's critically acclaimed The Talented Mr Ripley.

Based on the third novel in the Ripley series, which was created by Patricia Highsmith, Ripley's Game is set many years after Damon's outing, and finds John Malkovich in the title role of Tom Ripley, who finds his complacency shaken when he is scorned at a posh gala.

In order to get back, Ripley sets up a subtle, infinitely more sinister revenge, which sparks off another chain of events involving deception and murder. On this occasion, he enlists the help of Dougray Scott's dying picture framer to kill two enemies, a task the latter only accepts as a means of providing for his family after he dies.

Shooting on the £9 million movie was completed in Italy last year, while the films stars (Malkovich, Scott, Ray Winstone and Lena Headey) were at the Venice Film Festival to promote it. However, according to some web reports, the release of the film has had to be delayed due to technical difficulties, which resulted in smearing all over the working film print. It is now scheduled for April 4, next year, in America.

According to Ananova, the film's distributors, Fine Line, allegedly refused to accept the finished print until it undergoes remastering at a cost of thousands - although they have ruled out any possibility that the film won't be released at all.

There is every reason to feel excited about the film, however, given the wealth of talent involved. Malkovich seems like good casting as the wily Ripley, while the strong English element should help to ensure something of an acting tour-de-force, with Scott set to build on a growing reputation following strong turns in Mission Impossible 2 and Enigma.

Speaking to Empire magazine, recently, Scott described his character as 'a picture framer who works in Italy', who is dying of leukemia. When Ripley asks him to commit these two murders, 'he decides to do it, because he needs the money. But he is the most unlikely assassin in the world. He is weak and pompous and English, but he is a very complex character."

The film has been directed by Liliana Cavani and includes a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Keep checking back with these pages for further updates and critical reaction from America when it finally does open.

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