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Ripley's Game (15)

Review by: Katherine Kaminsky | Rating: Two


FOLLOWING the success of The Talented Mr Ripley comes another adaptation from the Patricia Highsmith books.

Ripley's Game is set 20 or so years after the events of Anthony Minghella's movie. Tom Ripley, now played by John Malkovich, is in his forties, happily married and living in Northern Italy.

His wife (Chiara Caselli) is a harpsichord virtuoso and they live in a restored mansion, surrounded by works of art.

When his taste is insulted by neighbour, Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott), Ripley seeks revenge, and, when he discovers Trevanny is dying of leukaemia, decides to play a game with his destiny.

Old acquaintance, Reeves (Ray Winstone), wants a Russian Mafia rival assassinated, but needs someone totally unconnected to carry out the crime.

Ripley suggests the naive Trevanny, who is struggling to support his wife (Lena Headey) and young son. Reeves, with the subtle help of Ripley's orchestration, lures Trevanny to commit murder, with the temptation of financial security.

Trevanny is an unlikely assassin, but finally succumbs, believing himself to be doing the best thing possible for the family he won't be able to provide for.

Satisfied his manipulative game has been won, Ripley is then surprised to learn that Trevanny has developed a taste for his new occupation, and the two team up in an unlikely union when the Mafia trace the killings to Reeves.

This dark comedy is a fascinating look at an ugly side of human nature. Scott is excellent as a victim of inadequacy, who is easily persuaded to suspend his morals.

His actions are, to him, justified when he hears of the evil deeds of his prey. The character then transforms and appears exhilarated by murder.

Winstone is reliably menacing as the amusingly uncouth Reeves, who befriends Trevanny for his own purpose, and Malkovich is perfect as the Iagoesque Ripley.

His underplayed, sardonic delivery is well matched to the chilling remarks he makes.

Ripley's philosophy seems to be if someone is in the way, kill them. We've seen Malkovich play a few psychopaths in the past, but his Ripley has the same appeal as Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter - you almost side with their twisted logic.

Perhaps because they seem cultured, you are left feeling secure that their victims deserved their fate, whereas, of course, you would be allowed to live...

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