Patricia Highsmith’s many tales about Tom Ripley — the chameleonic, sociopathic murderer — have been adapted to the screen several times before. But where The Talented Mr. Ripley painted a romantic view of the antihero as a tragic, lonely figure, Liliana Cavani’s Ripley’s Game visits an older, more comfortable Ripley, played by a slithery John Malkovich. He’s already found love, he’s already found wealth. But when his neighbor, Jonathan (Dougray Scott) insults Ripley behind his back at a party, he can’t help himself… Jonathan has to be destroyed.
The game Ripley plays is fiendish and cruel, but the initial, evil thrill of seeing Jonathan forced to commit murder evolves into an unlikely friendship — if you can call it that — between Ripley and his plaything. Even Ripley, the master manipulator, is surprised at where his latest scheme is going… and yet, it feels inevitable. Cavani’s slick, mature Game is half twisted character study, half crime thriller, and always underhanded.
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