Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ebertfest Report: Ripley's Game

For some reason, Roger Ebert loves Ripley's Game starring John Malkovich. I thought the movie was okay, but nothing special.

Ripley's Game is based on five novels by Patricia Highsmith featuring a likeable sociopath, Tom Ripley, who always gets away with his crimes and never feels badly. The film was never released in the United States by its distributor, Fine Line, which was preoccupied with getting its Lord of the Rings trilogy into the market. Ebert, before the screening, called that a "crime," because, he said "It is one of the great crime pictures and crime characters of modern time."

I don't understand what it is about the movie that Ebert found to be so great. For my money, movies like The Usual Suspects, LA Confidential, Goodfellas, as well as both Godfather movies were much more enjoyable than Ripley's Game.

Malkovich does a good job of portraying Ripley, but he always does a good job with such characters. He has an air of controlled menace on screen in almost all of his films. To do "lovable" or "cuddly," now that would be an acting stretch for Malkovitch.

In the discussion afterwards, Malkovitch commented that within Ripley "there is a massive hole of rage." He said that the author of the Ripley novels, Highsmith perceived that the audience likes it that a sociopath does things they don't get to do, and it enjoys that he gets away with it. Malkovich and Ebert were joined onstage by Russ Smith, a friend of Malkovich from his Steppenwold Theater days, who was the producer of the film. Smith claimed that Malkovich would have gotten an Oscar nomination for his performance had Fine Line released the movie in the United States instead of the one they did release, The Real Cancun. I don't know; there's no predicting the Motion Picture Academy, but I don't see it. I'm not knocking Malkovitch's performance, I just don't think it was special. So, I gave the movie three stars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are right about Malkovich. His flat affect and menacing tone are pretty much the only tools in his repertoire and they are getting tiresome.