**** Image A Sound A
starring John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone, Lena Headey
screenplay by Charles McKeown and Liliana Cavani, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith
directed by Liliana Cavani
by Walter Chaw When I heard that The Night Porter auteur Liliana Cavani was adapting one of Patricia Highsmith's Mr. Ripley novels, I knew to expect something more in line with René Clément's brilliant Purple Noon than Anthony Minghella's lavishly simpering The Talented Mr. Ripley. What I didn't anticipate was that this film, which never received any sort of domestic theatrical distribution before being summarily dropped, supplement-free, onto the home video market, would be one of the best of its year--indeed, of its kind. Ripley's Game is doomed to the "direct-to-video" label and an ignominious eternity buried in the Blockbuster shelves for the occasional stunned bemusement of the well traveled and the John Malkovich fetishist--it languishes there while over-masticated tripe like The Alamo finds its way to thousands of screens, its lingering impact to remind again that the slippery slope in Hollywood's distribution game just got steeper. Ripley's Game would have looked great on the big screen--and some genius robbed us of the opportunity to see it that way, thinking we'd prefer American Splendor or Along Came Polly.