My boy Kane Senes put me onto this great little interview with Matt Damon in conversation with Bill Simmons on his podcast. Their chat runs the length of a feature film and celebrates the upcoming twentieth anniversary of Rounders, the cult drama centred around the underground world of high-stakes poker.
What was most exciting about the chat was that it went into a highly comprehensive look at how Damon and his boyhood pal Ben Affleck forced their way into the inner sanctum of Hollywood. For years Affleck and Damon laboured to bring their script Good Will Hunting to the screen.
After Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock failed to carry it over the line, Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax bought the script for six hundred kay in the hopes of capitalizing on their rising stars. As part of their deal, Weinstein offered them a three-picture deal at capped salaries, a deal the hungry thespians were more than happy to close, given Miramax’s unstoppable run with the new kids on the block. The three pictures ended up being Rounders, Dogma and The Talented Mr. Ripley.
The last of this trio is one of the most visually striking films and one of my personal favourites of the nineties (I’ve seen it close to a dozen times). Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name and directed by the late Anthony Minghella, it follows a curiously malleable individual named Tom Ripley (Damon) who struggles to make ends meet in nineteen-fifties New York.
When Ripley is mistakenly identified by a wealthy magnate as a Princeton graduate and friend to Dickie (Jude Law), his playboy son, he is given an expense account to sail to Europe and convince him to return home from his endless summer. Minghella masterfully weaves the colourful characters into the lush period atmosphere and infuses a sexual tension that knows no gender lines.
For my money, the film is a celebration of youth, a time-capsule of a distinctive age and beauty that is either revered or despised, depending on where you sit in the journey of life. Every supporting role is radiant and distinctive in their own way; Jude Law and his dashing laissez-faire style, Gwyneth Paltrow as a soft-spoken angel or Cate Blanchett and her charming neuroses.
Like it or lump it, youth never gets old.