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In the beautiful North East Italian countryside, a slightly older* Tom Ripley (John Malkovich) lives the life of the idle rich, his wife Luisa (Chiara Caselli) a talented professional harpsichord player. His villa is beautiful, even if his mind is not. When a past accomplice in crime, the English cockney Reeves (Ray Winstone), calls on Ripley to murder a Russian mafia business competitor in Berlin, Ripley demurs, but soon suggests one of his neighbours, a terminally ill young English picture framer, Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott) - because he is an innocent who would never be suspected. Jonathan's young family are kept in the dark as the dying man considers his options, which include making a lot of money very quickly, thus securing his wife and son's future. His choice is no surprise to Ripley, but the ramifications are unpredictable. *Older than he was in Anthony Minghella's 1998 film, The Talented Mr Ripley, based on another Highsmith novel about Ripley.

Review by Louise Keller:
A stylishly intelligent thriller with John Malkovich at his enthralling best, Ripley's Game draws us like a magnet into the unfathomable world of Tom Ripley. Living comfortably within the bounds of his own morality, this is a different person from the one we met in The Talented Mr Ripley. Older, more assured and exceedingly more complex, Ripley is totally in control of his life. Director/writer Liliana Cavani's deft screenplay from Patricia Highsmith's novel takes us right to the edge - in every sense of the word.

Here is a film that engages us from the very first breathtaking scene and keeps us on the edge of our seats until the satisfying resolution. From cold-blooded killer to urbane gentleman, the contrast is almost too much to absorb. Ripley is a man who enjoys European-style decadence and elegance. He delights in his sumptuous surroundings and toys with his exquisite young wife Luisa, as if she were a lovely plaything. Killing is simply a necessary evil, but when it is required, he has no compunction. Like a patient man fishing, Ripley takes pleasure in reeling in his innocent neighbour Jonathan as a pawn in his game, enticing him slowly but confidently.

Our heart is in our mouth as Jonathan boards the train, knowing that he is overwhelmed by a task that is far beyond his capabilities. These are some of the film's most thrilling scenes and ones in which Ripley and Jonathan become irrevocably linked. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife, and the wry humour that comes at the most unexpected moments, is almost a relief. Everything works wonderfully with Malkovich masterful in his every expression, every movement, every nuance, in his best performance since Dangerous Liaisons. Superbly cast, Dougray Scott's vulnerable, insecure Jonathan becomes a man with growing self-belief. Lena Headey gives a strong performance as his concerned wife, while Chiara Caselli is captivating as the alluring Luisa.

More inspired casting has Ray Winston as the obnoxiously common Reeves, who counters Ripley's urbanity. The beauty and elegance of the classical Italian villa setting with its manicured, designer gardens makes for a startling contrast to the harshness and ugliness of the violence that takes place there. Similarly, the use of ethereal music accentuates the disparity between beauty and depravity. Ripley's Game is a ripper of a thriller, guaranteed to catch you, hook, line and sinker.

Published February 5, 2004

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CAST: John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone, Lena Headey, Chiara Caselli

DIRECTOR: Liliana Cavani

SCRIPT: Liliana Cavani (novel by Patricia Highsmith)

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 16: 9 enhanced; dolby digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

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