The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talented Mr. Ripley Information

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1999 psychological thriller film written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella. It is an adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith 1955 novel of the same name, which was previously filmed as Plein Soleil (Purple Noon) in 1960.

The film stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge Sherwood, Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue (a character created for the film), Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Miles, Jack Davenport as Peter Smith-Kingsley (a character expanded for the film), James Rebhorn as Herbert Greenleaf, and Celia Weston as Aunt Joan.


Tom Ripley is a young man struggling to make a living in 1950s New York City using his "talents" — forgery, lying and impersonation. While working at a party, he is approached by the wealthy shipbuilder Herbert Greenleaf, who believes Ripley went to Princeton with his son, Dickie. Greenleaf recruits Ripley to travel to Italy to persuade Dickie to return home to the United States, for which he will pay Ripley $1000. Ripley accepts the proposal, though he never met Dickie nor even went to Princeton.

Shortly after his arrival in Italy, Ripley contrives an "accidental" meeting on the beach with Dickie and his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood, and quickly insinuates himself into their lives. On one of their outings together, Dickie and Ripley meet Dickie's friend Freddie Miles, who treats Ripley with barely concealed contempt.

Things begin to change after a local girl, whom Dickie had impregnated, drowns herself when he refuses to help her financially. Soon afterward, Dickie begins to tire of his new friend, resenting his constant presence and suffocating dependence, especially after surmising that Ripley has been lying about their days together at Princeton. Ripley's own feelings are complicated by his desire to maintain the opulent lifestyle Dickie has afforded him, and by his growing sexual obsession with his new friend.

As a gesture to Ripley, Dickie invites Ripley to travel with him on a short holiday to San Remo. The two hire a small boat and head out to sea together. Dickie lashes out when Ripley confronts him about his behavior, and a fight ensues during which Ripley strikes Dickie with an oar in a fit of rage. Dickie attacks him and orders Ripley off the boat, which is floating in deep water offshore, and Ripley beats him to death with the oar. To conceal his crime, he scuttles the boat, with Dickie's body still on board, before swimming to shore.

When the hotel concierge mistakes him for Dickie, Ripley suddenly realizes he can assume Dickie's identity. He forges Dickie's signature, modifies his passport, and begins living off his allowance. He uses Dickie's typewriter to communicate with Marge and makes her believe that Dickie has deserted her. He even checks into two separate hotels as himself and as Dickie, then passes messages between "the two men" via the hotel staff, thereby providing the illusion that Dickie is still alive.

Ripley rents an expensive apartment in Rome and spends a lonely Christmas buying expensive presents for himself. Freddie visits what he assumes to be Dickie's apartment, and is immediately suspicious of Ripley; the apartment is not furnished in what he considers to be Dickie's style, while Ripley appears to have copied Dickie's dress and manner perfectly. On his way out, Freddie meets the landlady, who refers to Ripley as "Signor Greenleaf." Freddie goes back to confront Ripley, who ambushes and then murders him.

Over the next few weeks, Ripley's existence becomes a "cat-and-mouse" game with the police and Dickie's friends. His predicament is complicated by the presence of Meredith Logue, an heiress he met upon his arrival in Italy and to whom he introduced himself as Dickie Greenleaf. Ripley forges a suicide note in Dickie's name and moves to Venice. In quick succession, Marge, Dickie's father, and an American private detective, Alvin MacCarron, confront Ripley. Marge, in particular, suspects Ripley's involvement in Dickie's death; when she expresses her suspicions, Ripley prepares to murder her. He is interrupted when Marge's friend, Peter Smith-Kingsley, enters the apartment.

MacCarron reveals that Mr. Greenleaf has decided to give Ripley a substantial portion of Dickie's income, with the understanding that certain sordid details about his son's past, such as a vicious assault on a student at Princeton, not be revealed to the Italian police.

Ripley goes on a cruise with Smith-Kingsley, now his lover, only to discover that Meredith is also on board. Ripley realizes it will be impossible to keep Smith-Kingsley from discovering that he has been passing himself off as Dickie, since Smith-Kingsley and Meredith know each other and would certainly exchange words later on the cruise. He cannot solve this dilemma by murdering Meredith, as she is traveling with family who would quickly notice her disappearance. The film concludes with a sobbing Ripley strangling Smith-Kingsley in the latter's bed and going back to his cabin, alone.




Critical reaction was positive, and the film has a rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Roger Ebert gave the film four-out-of-four stars, calling it "an intelligent thriller" that is "insidious in the way it leads us to identify with Tom Ripley ... He's a monster, but we want him to get away with it". In her review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin praised Law's performance: "This is a star-making role for the preternaturally talented English actor Jude Law. Beyond being devastatingly good-looking, Mr. Law gives Dickie the manic, teasing powers of manipulation that make him ardently courted by every man or woman he knows". Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating, and Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote: "Damon is at once an obvious choice for the part and a hard sell to audiences soothed by his amiable boyishness ... the facade works surprisingly well when Damon holds that gleaming smile just a few seconds too long, his Eagle Scout eyes fixed just a blink more than the calm gaze of any non-murdering young man. And in that opacity we see horror".

Charlotte O'Sullivan of Sight and Sound wrote, "A tense, troubling thriller, marred only by problems of pacing (the middle section drags) and some implausible characterisation (Meredith's obsession with Ripley never convinces), it's full of vivid, miserable life". Time named it one of the ten best films of the year and called it a "devious twist on the Patricia Highsmith crime novel". James Berardinelli gave the film two and a half stars out of four, calling it "a solid adaptation" that "will hold a viewer's attention", but criticized "Damon's weak performance" and "a running time that's about 15 minutes too long." Berardinelli compared the film unfavorably with the previous adaptation, Purple Noon, which he gave four stars. He wrote, "The remake went back to the source material, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. The result, while arguably truer to the events of Highsmith's book, is vastly inferior. To say it suffers by comparison to Purple Noon is an understatement. Almost every aspect of René Clément's 1960 motion picture is superior to that of Minghella's 1999 version, from the cinematography to the acting to the screenplay. Matt Damon might make a credible Tom Ripley, but only for those who never experienced Alain Delon's portrayal."

In his review for The New York Observer, Andrew Sarris wrote, "On balance, The Talented Mr. Ripley is worth seeing more for its undeniably delightful journey than its final destination. Perhaps wall-to-wall amorality and triumphant evil leave too sour an aftertaste even for the most sophisticated anti-Hollywood palate". In his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote, "The Talented Mr. Ripley begins as an ingenious exposition of the great truth about charming people having something to hide: namely, their utter reliance on others. It ends up as a dismayingly unthrilling thriller and bafflingly unconvincing character study". In her review for the Village Voice, Amy Taubin criticized Minghella as a "would-be art film director who never takes his eye off the box office, doesn't allow himself to become embroiled in such complexity. He turns The Talented Mr. Ripley into a splashy tourist trap of a movie. The effect is rather like reading The National Enquirer in a café overlooking the Adriatic". Damon was apparently unhappy with the film's departures from Highsmith's novel, telling an interviewer shortly after the film was released, "I'd like to make the whole film all over again with the same cast and same title but make it completely like the book."


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
1999 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Jude Law
Best Art Direction Roy Walker
Bruno Cesari
Best Costume Design Ann Roth
Gary Jones
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) Anthony Minghella
2000 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jude Law
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Cate Blanchett
Best Film Music Gabriel Yared
Best Cinematography John Seale
Best Film William Horberg
Tom Sternberg
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella
Best Direction
2000 Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Anthony Minghella
2000 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Film
Best Composer Gabriel Yared
2000 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Cinematography John Seale
2000 Chlotrudis Awards Best Supporting Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman
Best Supporting Actress Cate Blanchett
2001 Empire Awards Best British Actor Jude Law
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture " Drama
Best Actor " Motion Picture Drama Matt Damon
Best Supporting Actor " Motion Picture Jude Law
Best Director Anthony Minghella
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared
2000 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Actor Matt Damon
Best Cinematography John Seale
Best Director Anthony Minghella
Best Film
Best Score Gabriel Yared
Best Screenplay Anthony Minghella
2000 London Film Critics Circle Awards British Screenwriter of the Year Anthony Minghella
British Supporting Actor of the Year Jude Law
2000 MTV Movie Awards Best Musical Sequence Matt Damon
Gwyneth Paltrow
Jude Law
Best Villain Matt Damon
2000 National Board of Review Awards Best Director Anthony Minghella
Best Supporting Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman
Top Ten Films
2000 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella
1999 Satellite Awards Best Film
Best Supporting Actor " Motion Picture Drama Jude Law
Best Cinematography John Seale
Best Director Anthony Minghella
Best Editing Walter Murch
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella
2000 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie " Drama
Choice Movie Actor " Drama Matt Damon
Choice Movie Breakout Performance Jude Law
Choice Movie Liar Matt Damon
2000 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains (2003):
    • Tom Ripley - Nominated Villain

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