The Talented Mr. Ripley ★★★★

This is an editor's film, through and through. I've seen films like this that try to explain people like Ripley through some exposition dump when this film proves that all you really need to do is (skillfully) marry cause and effect. Dickie's father happens to mention he likes jazz? Here's Tom listening to jazz blindfolded and guessing the artist. No need to have a character comment on him being the type to go overboard, we see it in his preparations. The only person who ever really tries to explain Tom Ripley is the man himself, far after we know he has a knack for con artistry, and there he just uses it as a party trick. An impression. Another manipulation.

It's not just structural, either; The Talented Mr. Ripley contains Walter Murch's most accomplished audio editing work since The Conversation. So much of this film is made up of J- and L-cuts, conversations that start in one place and end up in another. (Dickie explaining how he chose his Italian home at the party, and then on the boat, with no gap.) This lends the film an uneasy, dreamlike quality, especially when these techniques are used on the soundtrack, a constantly shifting balance of diegetic and non-diegetic music, with cues sometimes playing and then immediately being turned off. Taken as a whole, these change an already-great story on paper into something more. Like, on its own, the shot of Tom Ripley's face disappearing into shadow is kind of silly. Juxtaposed with the audio of his last conversation with Peter, it's horrifying. We are trapped inside his funhouse mirror version of the world, and yet we're losing any possible connection with him, face to face. He's letting the door close.

On a rewatch, it struck me just how funny this movie is. Not ha-ha funny, but so much of what makes it work as a thriller is that it's a Servant of Two Masters-style double identity plot, but murderously serious. It strikes me as strange that anyone would complain about the coincidences in this film, because they're almost all negative ones. It does not help Tom to accidentally run into people he's trying to avoid.

So, yeah. I don't remember this film being this good? Goddamn.