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 Ripley's Game
 Critic's Rating
   [A+]
 Date Posted
   14th October, 2004
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Cast: John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone
Director: Liliana Cavani

"Ripley's Game" picks up twenty years from where Anthony Minghella's brilliant "The Talented Mr. Ripley" left off. With a different cast, a different crew and made with an entirely different vibe, it is a dark, brutal thriller dripping with pitch-black humour. In fact "Ripley's Game" is a crafty, low-budget European oddity whose primary interest is to explore, in visceral detail, the monstrosities of men. It is a film that, sadly, did not enjoy a wide theatrical life.

John Malkovich in "Ripley's Game" is an older and wiser Tom Ripley who now lives in opulence in Italy with his young wife Luisa (Chiara Caselli). When Reeves (the awesome Ray Winstone), a former lover and cohort, returns to ask for a favour, Ripley concludes that this has to be the best opportunity to get even with Jonathan (Dougray Scott in a career-best role), his nave British neighbour who had insulted him earlier. Jonathan is an uncomplicated man, an innocent with a complicated life: wife, kids, leukemia. Jonathan eventually becomes a pawn in Ripley's macabre game of murder, deception and mayhem. The film is unashamedly gleeful in flaunting the emotional chaos of every character that surrounds Ripley. It suggests that we ultimately want to give in to our innate nature; man is wont to surrender to his deep-rooted archetypes; sacrifice years of moral conditioning to the animal that hides in his subconscious. Such sinister themes come, not surprisingly, courtesy of veteran writer-director Liliana Cavani who was responsible for the Freudian nightmare "Night Porter," a 1974 classic that made her an art house darling.

Make no mistake the subject matter in "Ripley's Game" is substantially wicked. Cavani uses the gothic mood and pale colours to explicate, in clinical detail, Ripley's stark apathy to humanity, and we indulge the film's audacities. Familiarity with Ripley's character should help too; he is but a man with no conscience, only the will to survive and seek pleasure. Could Tom Ripley possibly be the true alpha-male? A modern representation of man's purest primal state? - Adnan Khan

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