Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Couldn't Agree More//

...Hoffman’s assembly of Trumanhood was dazzling, from the bow tie to the dainty gait and the Looney Tunes contralto, but the dazzle was unrelieved and unrelaxing, like the glare of an arc lamp, and, in the end, some of us, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, found it, as Capote would say, de trop. No, for preference—for Hoffman at his height—I would go for Freddie.
Freddie Miles is a friend of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999). Freddie is trouble, and, more to the point, he can sniff trouble when it emanates from other folk. Everyone who admires the film remembers his arrival—one of the great arrivals, indeed, in the history of cinema, as he jumps from an open-top Alfa Romeo in an Italian piazza, bops toward us, kisses Dickie, pours a slug of wine, and throws it down his gullet in a single draught. But try a more legato scene, on Dickie’s yacht, when Law ducks down, belowdecks, to make waves with Gwyneth Paltrow. Freddie is left in charge of the boat. Once more, Hoffman’s technical display, if you look carefully, is off the scale, with Freddie nursing his cocktail, nibbling the olive on its stick, and casually laying a soft hand on the tiller, as if any harsher effort would be an insult to his loucheness. By now, however, he is so invested in the character, and we are so lost in his thrall, that we don’t look carefully. We just bathe in the ease of it, and we snicker along with him as he jeers at Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), up in the bow, who is spying on the lovemakers down in the hold. “Tommy, how’s the peeping?” Freddie cries, with glee unconfined. He repeats the line, with less punch, and then, in a speedy patter, adds, “Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy.” I know of no more graceful diminuendo, at least in the comic realm. (King Lear says “Never” five times, before he dies.) It is the sound of a man who is entirely at home in the world, chuckling at another man who is still exploring it, and still amazed at the deliciousness of its sins...

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