Ripley's Game (2002)

Directed by Liliana Cavani

Tom Ripley - cool, urbane, wealthy, and murderous - lives in a villa in the Veneto with Luisa, his harpsichord-playing girlfriend. A former business associate from Berlin's underworld pays a call asking Ripley's help in killing a rival. Ripley - ever a student of human nature - initiates a game to turn a mild and innocent local picture framer into a hit man. The artisan, Jonathan Trevanny, who's dying of cancer, has a wife, young son, and little to leave them. If Ripley draws Jonathan into the game, can Ripley maintain control? Does it stop at one killing? What if Ripley develops a conscience?

Raises my interest as much as Tom Ripley's soufflé. It's not entirely clear what went wrong here but my guess is that they lent too much into the success of Silence of the Lambs (1991) and it's 2001 followup Hannibal and attempted to make Ripley into a coldly detached Italian aesthete à la Anthony Hopkins. It doesn't quite work, though, even with the most compassionate reading of this film… even as a kind of clever in-film character detachment we see in films such as Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse (1962).

Indeed, this is all very weak entirely across the board, with nobody bringing their best work at all. Ennio Morricone's score is an embarrassing pastiche of Bach, John Malkovich just looks bored, and even Ray Winstone's Reeves (who is superb in Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth) feels badly out of place with his gangster schtick… and it also has that awful 2000s-era lighting and film stock. And that's clearly not an Italian harpsichord either. To be fair, it's not offensively bad, but I really can't quite believe that Roger Ebert genuinely believes this is better than The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).