The Talented Mr. Ripley (film)

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The Talented Mr. Ripley
Talented mr ripley.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Minghella
Produced by William Horberg
Tom Sternberg
Screenplay by Anthony Minghella
Based on The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith
Starring Matt Damon
Gwyneth Paltrow
Jude Law
Cate Blanchett
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Jack Davenport
James Rebhorn
Sergio Rubini
Music by Gabriel Yared
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Walter Murch
Mirage Enterprises
Timnick Films
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Miramax Films
Release dates
  • December 12, 1999 (1999-12-12) (Fox Bruin Theater)
  • December 25, 1999 (1999-12-25) (United States)
Running time
138 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[1]
Box office $128.8 million[1]

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1999 American psychological thriller written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella. An adaptation of the 1955 Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name, the film stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge Sherwood and Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue.

The novel was previously filmed as Plein Soleil in 1960.


Tom Ripley is a young man struggling to make a living in 1950s New York City. While playing piano at a cocktail party in New York City, he is approached by wealthy shipbuilder Herbert Greenleaf, who mistakenly believes that Ripley went to Princeton University with his son, Dickie, because Ripley is wearing a borrowed Princeton blazer. Greenleaf recruits Ripley to travel to Italy and persuade Dickie to return to the United States, for which he will pay Ripley $1,000 (equivalent to $8,848.45 in 2015). Ripley accepts the proposal, even though he did not attend Princeton and has never met Dickie.

Upon arriving by ship in Europe, Ripley meets a wealthy textile heiress named Meredith Logue. During their brief conversation, he impulsively pretends to be Dickie, later commenting in voice-over that "it is better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody." Shortly after his arrival in Italy, Ripley fakes a chance encounter on the beach with Dickie and his fiancée, Marge Sherwood. Ripley later discloses to Dickie and Marge that Mr. Greenleaf paid him to travel to Europe and persuade Dickie to return home. This revelation infuriates Dickie; he declines the invitation and suggests Ripley go back to America and inform his father that he has no intention of ever returning. Ripley instead ingratiates himself into Dickie's life under the pretext of being a fellow jazz lover. The two concoct a scheme for Ripley to wring additional funds from Greenleaf by regularly mailing letters suggesting Dickie is wavering and will likely return to America if Ripley can remain in Italy and continue applying pressure.

On a jaunt to Rome, Ripley meets Dickie's friend Freddie Miles, who treats Ripley with barely concealed contempt. A local girl, pregnant by Dickie, drowns herself after he refuses to help her financially; this sends Dickie into a downward spiral. He begins tiring of Ripley, resenting his constant presence and suffocating dependence. Ripley's own feelings are complicated by his desire to maintain the opulent lifestyle Dickie has afforded him, and his growing sexual obsession with his new friend. As a good-will gesture before Ripley returns to America, Dickie invites Ripley to sail with him for a last trip to Sanremo, where Dickie is looking to relocate. While at sea, Ripley suggests he return to Italy the following year and the two become housemates. Dickie dismisses Ripley's idea, telling Ripley that he intends to marry Marge and admitting he has grown weary of Ripley. Upset by this news, Ripley confronts Dickie about his behavior and lashes out in rage, repeatedly hitting Dickie with an oar, killing him. To conceal the murder, Ripley scuttles the boat with Dickie's body aboard before swimming ashore.

When the hotel concierge mistakes Ripley for Dickie, he realizes he can assume Dickie's identity. He forges Dickie's signature and begins living off Dickie's trust fund. He uses Dickie's typewriter to communicate with Marge, making her believe that Dickie has left her and has decided to stay in Rome. He checks into two separate hotels as himself and as Dickie, passing messages via the hotel staff to create the illusion that Dickie is still alive. His situation is complicated by the reappearance of Meredith, who still believes that he is Dickie.

Ripley rents a large apartment and spends an isolated Christmas buying himself expensive presents. Freddie tracks Ripley to his apartment in Rome through the American Express office, expecting to find Dickie. Freddie is immediately suspicious of Ripley as the apartment is not furnished in Dickie's style, while Ripley appears to have adopted Dickie's hair-style and mannerisms. On his way out, Freddie encounters the building's landlady who refers to Ripley as "Signor Dickie". Suspicious, Freddie goes back to confront Ripley, who murders him. Ripley carries the body to Freddie's car and abandons both in the woods.

Investigating the murder, the Italian police come looking for "Dickie" but find Ripley, who subtly implicates Dickie. Ripley eludes imminent capture and clears himself by forging a suicide note addressed to Ripley in Dickie's name. He then moves to Venice and rents an apartment under his real name. Though trusted by Dickie's father, Ripley is disquieted when Greenleaf hires American private detective Alvin MacCarron to investigate Dickie's disappearance. Marge suspects Ripley's involvement in Dickie's death and confronts him after finding Dickie's rings in Ripley's bathroom. Ripley appears poised to murder Marge but is interrupted when Peter Smith-Kingsley, a mutual friend, enters the apartment with a key Ripley had given him.

MacCarron, after uncovering certain sordid details about Dickie's past, reveals to Ripley that Greenleaf has requested the investigation be dropped. MacCarron will not share his revelations with the Italian police and asks Ripley to promise to do the same. In exchange for his candor, and implications made in Dickie's suicide note, Greenleaf intends to transfer a substantial portion of Dickie's trust fund income to Ripley. Dismayed at the resolution, Marge furiously accuses Ripley of involvement in Dickie's disappearance before Greenleaf and MacCarron drag her away.

Ripley and Peter, now lovers, go on a cruise together, and Ripley discovers that Meredith is also on board. She has spotted Peter, an old acquaintance; this endangers Ripley's deception, but he cannot murder Meredith because she is accompanied by her family. Ripley goes to Peter's cabin and suggests that they remain below deck for the duration of the cruise. He quickly dismisses this idea as he cannot offer Peter a legitimate reason for doing so, and mournfully strangles Peter to death before returning to his own cabin.



Rino Barillari and Matt Damon at Harry's Bar, Via Veneto, Rome, during The Talented Mr. Ripley shooting

The Guardian reported in 2000 that Leonardo DiCaprio declined the offer to play Ripley before Damon was cast in the role.[2]



Critical reaction was positive, and the film has a rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.[3]

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".[4] 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".[5] 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".[6]

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".[7] Time named it one of the ten best films of the year and called it a "devious twist on the Patricia Highsmith crime novel".[8] 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."[9] Berardinelli compared the film unfavorably with the previous adaptation, Purple Noon, which he gave four stars.[10] 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."[11]

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".[12] 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".[13] 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".[14] 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."[15]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
1999 Academy Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jude Law Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Art Direction Roy Walker (art director)
Bruno Cesari (set decorator)
Best Costume Design Ann Roth
Gary Jones
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Nominated
2000 BAFTA Awards Best Film William Horberg
Tom Sternberg
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jude Law Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Cate Blanchett Nominated
Best Direction Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Film Music Gabriel Yared Nominated
2000 Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Anthony Minghella Nominated
2000 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Composer Gabriel Yared Won
2000 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
2001 Empire Awards Best British Actor Jude Law Nominated
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Matt Damon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Jude Law Nominated
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Nominated
2000 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Actor Matt Damon Nominated
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Score Gabriel Yared Nominated
2000 London Film Critics Circle Awards British Screenwriter of the Year Anthony Minghella Nominated
British Supporting Actor of the Year Jude Law Nominated
2000 MTV Movie Awards Best Musical Sequence Matt Damon
Rosario Fiorello
Jude Law
Best Villain Matt Damon Nominated
2000 National Board of Review Awards[16] Top Ten Films Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Won
Best Director Anthony Minghella Won
2000 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
1999 Satellite Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Drama Jude Law Nominated
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Editing Walter Murch Nominated
2000 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Drama Nominated
Choice Movie Actor Matt Damon Nominated
Choice Movie: Breakout Star Jude Law Nominated
Choice Movie: Liar Matt Damon Nominated
2000 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated


  1. ^ a b The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  2. ^ Ojumu, Akin (January 30, 2000). "Bad will hunting". The Guardian. Retrieved February 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 24, 1999). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 24, 1999). "Stealing a New Life, Carnal, Glamorous And Worth the Price". The New York Times. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  6. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (January 7, 2000). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  7. ^ O'Sullivan, Charlotte (March 2000). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Sight and Sound. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  8. ^ "The Best Cinema of 1999". Time. March 2000. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  9. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley - A Film Review by James Berardinelli". Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Purple Noon (Plein Soleil) - A Film Review by James Berardinelli". Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  11. ^ "James Berardinelli Top 100: #86: Purple Noon". Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  12. ^ Sarris, Andrew (December 26, 1999). "The Year at the Movies: Overlong, Overambitious". The New York Observer. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  13. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (February 25, 2000). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". The Guardian. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  14. ^ Taubin, Amy (December 21, 1999). "From Riches to Rags: Ugly Americans and Plucky Irish". Village Voice. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Ripley: my part in his downfall - Profiles, People". The Independent. February 18, 2000. Retrieved October 14, 2011. [dead link]
  16. ^ "1999 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved March 10, 2016. 

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