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We first meet Tom Ripley, art lover and swindler, in Berlin, where he's engaged in selling $3 million-worth of art forgeries to a dealer and ending his partnership with Reeves, Ray Winstone. Ripley returns to his elegant villa near Venice and to his wife, Luisa, Chiara Caselli but some time later Reeves shows up seeking help from his old partner. The Russian mafia is moving into Reeves' German territory, and Reeves wants the gang leader eliminated. After some consideration, Ripley proposes that a total innocent be selected for the dangerous task - Jonathan Trevanny, Dougray Scott, is a local picture framer, with a wife, Lena Headey, and son; and Ripley knows that he's terminally ill. He needs money to provide for his family, and money's what he'll get if he undertakes the role of assassin. The last time we saw Patricia Highsmith's Ripley character on screen he was played by Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley, but, over the years, he's also been played by Alain Delon and Dennis Hopper. Hopper starred in Wim Wenders' The American Friend, made in 1977, which was based on the same book as this new adaptation by Liliana Cavani. Wenders' film was set in Hamburg, but Cavani's relocation to northern Italy for most of the action seems exactly right, and John Malkovich was born to play Ripley - he's far better than Damon, and, indeed, this is a much better film than The Talented Mr. Ripley, though likely to be commercially far less successful. Cavani, who hasn't made a really good film since The Night Porter in 1973, seems inspired by the material; she directs, in crisp, no-nonsense style, a witty adaptation she wrote with Charles McKeown. The one weak link is Dougray Scott, who doesn't bring the nuances you might have expected from the part of the doomed Jonathan, but everything else about this thriller is very stylish indeed.