"So what do you think? How many timeshares can we put you down for today?"
Immediately, Dickie doesn't give a rat's ass about Tom, but Tom manages to wrangle a lunch with Dickie and Marge, at which he scares the hell out of Dickie and reveals his true purpose by doing a spot-on impression of Mr. Greenleaf, which isn't as hard as it sounds considering that he's impersonating James Rebhorn, Mr. Generic Gray-Suited White Guy. Dickie wants him gone, but Tom manages to "accidentally" reveal that he's a huge jazz fan: apparently he's such a huge fan that he'll carry around records in his satchel wherever he goes, just on the off chance he gets access to a record player eventually. This convinces Dickie to let him stay, so long as he keeps pretending he's working for Mr. Greenleaf, and that he keep on taking Mr. Greenleaf's money to pay for his part of their very expensive lifestyle. Dickie and Tom become inseparable best friends, in the sense that Dickie gets to be a mix of Jay Gatsby and Paris Hilton, and Tom gets to be a grinning goofball with a Mr. Ed smile. They go to jazz clubs, sail, drink the world's first ever espresso (oh, how much better the world could have been if there had been another Italian coup right there, and everyone had taken that secret to their graves), and make plans to go skiing in Cortina later that winter. Organizing the skiing trip is Freddie Miles (Phillip Seymour-Hoffman), who in the pre-Facebook age served as a social networker of sorts. In most other settings, I would have thought that this guy was Dickie's drug dealer, but I guess that all the idle rich back then were just naturally intertwined by a droll, crass chubby guy.
Eminem's routine wasn't always quite so edgy.
Gas rationing during the later Carter years was difficult for some Americans.
"Oh, I just got it! He said, 'MAAAATT DAMON!' just like he did all the time in Team America! I get it! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Mark McGwire: The Declining Years
- Peter Smith-Kingsley = gay British guy
- Dickie Greenleaf = rich, carefree shipping heir
- Freddie Miles = sleazy, rich bully and sycophantic friend
- Tom Ripley = working class American with "Believe It or Not!"-type skills
"No, Matt, you've got to choke up more! Keep your swing level, and keep your weight back or you won't be able to hit the curve...WAAAAHHH!"
Now forced to deal with the fact that his girlfriend knows him as Dickie Greenleaf and his murdered friend's ex-fiancee knows he's really Tom Ripley, Tom has to find a way to keep up the act for both parties. He solves the immediate crisis by breaking up with Meredith and arranging for her and Marge to run into each other. You'd think that those two getting together would be just about the most dangerous thing in the world from his perspective, but fortunately for Tom, Meredith flees at seeing Dickie's ex-fiancee (someone whom she recognizes, apparently, despite the fact that she'd never seen the real Dickie in her life), and Marge gets affirmation that Dickie is actually running around with other women, just as his letter said he would. Crisis averted!
"The name's Bourne. Jason Bourne. And Jason Bourne is the opposite of that jingoistic old dinosaur, James Bond. So I'm saying goodbye to you, darling, and I'm going back to my room with Marge Schott instead."
Tom's free, once again, to continue living in expensive hotels, cashing checks, and even collecting Christmas presents under Dickie's name, confident that no one will ever attempt to actually find Dickie using the massive paper trail he's leaving in his wake. I mean, it's not like Dickie's father is a massively rich man who hired Tom because he wanted to get his son home in the first place. He gets away with it until... right away! Freddie Miles has found him, confronting Tom in his hotel room. Although Tom briefly pretends that he's just traveling with Dickie, and that Dickie's just stepped out for a while, Freddie's not quite THAT dumb. So it's bonk-bonk on the head for him too.
"Signore, there have been complaints from your neighbors of someone shouting, 'MAAAATT DAMON!' repeatedly throughout the day."
Freddie's disappearance draws the attention of the Italian police, so now Tom has to pretend to be Dickie for them too. A famous aristocrat caught up in a murder investigation? No, I don't suppose that any one of the Italian police would have run across a genuine photo of Dickie Greenleaf, a simple act that would have instantly doomed Ripley. After all, I've seen the Godfather movies, and I know that things are a little lax legally over there. The chief detective does look and sound more than a bit like an Italian Clouseau, now that I think of it. The detective's spectacular failure to do any of the most obvious things you'd think he'd do over the course of a high-profile investigation (read a newspaper that would undoubtedly print a stock photo of the real Dickie, collect statements from Meredith and Marge that would show conflicts, make a serious effort to find and interview Tom Ripley), allow Tom to escape from the hotel, leaving behind a suicide note from Dickie. And that's that! Italian law apparently allows a suicide note to pass as absolute proof that the writer is dead, and for the investigation into Freddie Miles' death to end immediately, since Dickie probably did it anyway.
This allows Tom to head to Venice, now living permanently as Tom, and after a few more near-misses where he almost blows his cover, he's able to relax. He starts up a relationship with Peter, entirely confident that there are no loose ends, and that he'll never run into anyone again who knew him as Dickie. In addition, Tom's getting a portion of Dickie's inheritance, courtesy of Mr. Greenleaf, so now the man's rich for real. Marge knows that Tom killed Dickie, but she hasn't figured out the identity theft part, which would be the big Columbo moment at the end, so Tom's in the clear.
The one scary moment in this whole thriller.
That is, until he and Peter go on a cruise, and who else happens to be on the cruise except Meredith! DAMMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! Europe is a whole god-damned continent, you potato-faced bitch! How the hell do you "bump" into him on three separate occasions?!?! Since Peter knows Meredith, and they're all stuck on the same boat together, it's gut check time for Tom. He's got two choices here to cover his tracks. 1) He could kill Meredith, the one who somehow, some way, has not yet heard from her presumably many well-connected friends that Dickie is dead, and who will inevitably find out very, very soon, which will jumpstart a new investigation. Too bad she's traveling with people who would miss her if she suddenly disappeared from the boat. 2) He could kill Peter, who wouldn't be missed as much while the boat's at sea, but whose snuffing out wouldn't have any long-term benefits to Tom as far as tying up loose ends. Plus, Tom supposedly loves him. Tom opts to kill Peter, favoring the easier solution in the short-term. You'd think that if Ripley's so talented, he could have gotten Meredith to swallow blowfish poison or something. Or chased her around the boat with a knife for fifteen minutes like killers are usually obliged to do at the end of these kinds of movies. While Tom's apparently getting away, for now, he's more than a little depressed, so I guess it's a pyrrhic victory for the audience members who hate Matt Damon's... I'm sorry, hate Tom Ripley's guts.
I don't really know how faithful this movie is to the old Patricia Highsmith novel upon with it's based, although my brief internet research makes it sound like Tom's just plain evil in the source material, and not merely a lonely working-class kid who just wants to live the dream of being insanely rich and utterly useless to society. But I do know that this movie is dumber than Dickie with a crushed skull. In a film that's one big caper in its latter half, most of the film's quality is dependent upon how clever the hunted man's schemes for avoiding capture are, although good old-fashioned luck can certainly factor in. Here, the movie gets a grade of Epic Fail, as the kids say these days. Tom's tricks to stay ahead of suspicion are pretty weak, and only succeed because everyone around him conveniently acts as rock-stupid and ill-informed as the situation demands at any given moment.
That, and there are only two sympathetic characters with any significant screen time, in my opinion: Mr. Greenleaf, the eternally patient and gracious father, and Peter, the one friend of Dickie's who appears to be a responsible human being and willing to support his friends. Meredith is merely inoffensive, as is Marge, although it's sad that she has to deal with having her fiancee murdered, even if the guy was a creep. Ripley? He's the protagonist, since we're supposed to feel tension that he might get caught, not gleeful anticipation of him finally getting his just desserts. To be fair, the movie never really claims that he's supposed to be a hero, but we're at least supposed to feel sympathy for him not being allowed to live a lifelong spring break, even though he keeps at it by continually committing murder and constantly risking capture. And since his ruse depended on him only meeting people who never knew Dickie, he didn't even keep it up for the sake of having friends: he just liked staying at fancy hotels and wearing expensive clothes. Dude, you could just do that the safe and honest way by robbing banks.
"Matt, could you get me the binoculars? I can barely read a word in this bloody thing!"
In any event, I've gone through this entire review without making one "Dickie" joke, so please leave before I tell this movie something none of us want to hear.