Thursday, August 5, 2010

Movies in Italy: The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella, 1999)

*This series is to introduce you to the various films that were either set in Italy or were made in Italy, discussing how we as outsiders view the country and how Italians view themselves, and how this is expressed and experienced through the art of cinema

The Talented Mr. Ripley is an all-around movie that you could relate to whatever it is that’s bugging you at the moment: the role of women in a patriarchal society as seen in Marge’s character; Tom’s shape-shifting but ultimately tragic homosexual; Dickie’s invincibility and invisibility afforded to him by his privilege; even the rift between classical and modern music representing the coming social rift represented by the 60s. But for me what appealed is the Italy portrayed, and how it represents the Italy most expect when they visit the country. I think the movie tries to parody the self-absorbed relationship that the upper-class visitors has to Italy, but only unconsciously. There’s drama ,conflict, murder, but all of which have nothing to do with Italy or its people. A side-story about a tragic love-affair with an Italian woman was the closest these characters had at actually perceiving the country beyond their rose-colored spectacles, but even then it was easily dismissed as an element that revealed Dickie’s true character, without regard to the largely perfunctory and silent female character. The film have a lot of village scenes and postcard-pretty shots of Rome, Venice, and Sanremo, but it’s so remote to the story that I often questioned if the scenes were set in a sound studio. It’s like the film crew was on vacation, and they just needed to prove that they were there. There was no direct way that the scenery was engaged, no efforts to make the obviously staged market and street scenes more believable, not even to make the obviously exotic locales more palpable in their alieness. It might as well have been just another serial killer story set in Cleveland.

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