The Talented Mr. Ripley (film)

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The Talented Mr. Ripley
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnthony Minghella
Screenplay byAnthony Minghella
Based onThe Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith
Produced by
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited byWalter Murch
Music byGabriel Yared
Distributed by
Release dates
  • December 12, 1999 (1999-12-12) (Fox Bruin Theater)
  • December 25, 1999 (1999-12-25) (United States)
Running time
139 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[2]
Box office$128.8 million[2]

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1999 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Anthony Minghella, based on Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel of the same name. Set in the 1950s, it stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, a con artist who is sent from New York City to Italy to convince Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled playboy, to return home – however, after failing, Ripley takes extreme measures. Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman also appear in supporting roles.

The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing $128 million worldwide. It received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Law.


In 1958 New York City, Tom Ripley is approached by shipbuilding magnate Herbert Greenleaf, who believes that Ripley attended Princeton with his son Dickie. Greenleaf pays Ripley one thousand dollars to travel to Italy, where Dickie has settled, and persuade him to return to the United States. On a first-class ocean liner voyage, Ripley pretends to be Dickie and befriends American socialite Meredith Logue.

In the seaside village of Mongibello, Ripley befriends Dickie and his American girlfriend Marge Sherwood by claiming to be a former Princeton classmate. He enjoys Dickie's extravagant lifestyle and becomes obsessed with Dickie himself, but Dickie's wealthy friend Freddie Miles mistrusts Ripley and treats him with contempt. When he returns from Rome, Dickie is disturbed to find Ripley dressed in his clothes and dancing in front of a mirror. Dickie impregnates a local young woman called Silvana and then spurns her, causing her to drown herself. Ripley, aware of what has happened, promises a guilt-ridden Dickie to keep the death a secret. After Dickie's father cuts off Ripley's travel funds, Dickie cancels a trip to Venice and tells Ripley that they should part ways, but Ripley convinces Dickie to take a final trip with him to San Remo.

Aboard a small boat, Dickie says that he has grown tired of Ripley and is going to marry Marge, while Ripley insists that Dickie is afraid of their feelings for each other. The argument becomes physical, and Ripley kills Dickie with an oar. Ripley takes Dickie's belongings and scuttles the boat. Realizing that locals frequently mistake him for Dickie, Ripley assumes Dickie's identity. He forges a letter to Marge, convincing her that Dickie has left her and moved to Rome. Ripley creates the illusion that Dickie is still alive by checking into one hotel as Dickie and another as himself, then fabricating an exchange of communications between the two. Through forgery, he is able to draw on Dickie's allowance on which he can live lavishly.

In Rome, Ripley runs into Meredith, who still knows him as Dickie, and accepts an invitation to attend an opera with her family. His ruse is threatened at the opera when he unexpectedly runs into Marge and her friend Peter Smith-Kingsley. Ripley rushes Meredith out of the opera house and rejects her advances. Later, Freddie shows up to Ripley's apartment looking for Dickie. When the landlady addresses Ripley as Dickie, Freddie realizes the fraud, so Ripley bludgeons him to death and disposes of his body. When the body is found, police visit the apartment to question "Dickie." Ripley forges a suicide note for Dickie that claims responsibility for Freddie's death. Under his real name, Ripley travels to Venice, where he again encounters Peter.

Dickie's father arrives in Italy, accompanied by private detective Alvin MacCarron. Ripley almost kills Marge after she discovers he has Dickie's rings, but they are interrupted by Peter. Mr. Greenleaf dismisses Marge's suspicions, and MacCarron tells Ripley that the police are convinced that Dickie, who had a history of violence, murdered Freddie before killing himself. MacCarron tells Ripley that Greenleaf intends to bequeath a large portion of Dickie's trust fund to him, to reward his loyalty to Dickie and ensure his silence.

Free and clear of his crimes, and with the income to finally live Dickie's lifestyle as himself, Ripley boards a liner to Greece with Peter. It is implied that they are now lovers. On board, Ripley is surprised to encounter Meredith. Ripley kisses her and promises to talk later. In his cabin, Peter tells Ripley he saw him kiss Meredith and demands answers. After apologizing for lying to him, a sobbing Ripley strangles Peter to death and returns to his cabin, alone.




The Guardian reported that Leonardo DiCaprio declined the role, which went to Damon.[3] Minghella cast Matt Damon, after seeing his performance in Good Will Hunting, because he felt the actor had the right mix of "credibility, warmth, and generosity" to engage the audience and help them understand how Ripley "thinks and operates".[4] The character of Meredith Logue, not present in the novel, was added by Minghella, with Cate Blanchett in mind. He was "entranced" with Blanchett, after meeting with her and surprised that she was actually interested in playing the small part. Minghella went on to write more scenes for the character, to expand her role.[4]

Minghella happened to see the dailies from a film starring Law, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, that his wife, Carolyn Choa, was producing at the time. Impressed with Law's performance, he offered him the role of Dickie. In his "insane arrogance", as Law put it, he initially refused because he did not wish to play a "pretty boy". After learning of the cast Minghella was assembling and coming to understand that he would be "in safe hands" with the director, Law later accepted the part.[5]


Apart from the beginning scenes filmed in New York City, the film was shot entirely on location in Italy. The cliffside resort town of Positano and various villages on the islands of Ischia and Procida, near Naples, were used to represent the fictional town of Mongibello.[6] Frequent and unpredictable rain hampered the production, with Minghella stating that "we had to deliver this gorgeous Mediterranean world, this beautiful world of Southern Italy, and we could never get Italy to turn beautiful...We would divide the scenes up, often into words, and go out and get two or three words and then, it would start to rain, and we'd have to go back in, again."[4] The scenes taking place in San Remo were actually filmed in Anzio, a resort town near Rome. Well-known locations included the Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna in Rome, and the Caffè Florian in the Piazza San Marco in Venice.[6]

To prepare for the role of Ripley, Damon lost 30 pounds and learned to play the piano.[7] Law gained weight and learned to play the saxophone for his character; he also broke a rib, when he fell backward, while filming the murder scene on the boat.[8]



Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 85% based on 138 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "With Matt Damon's unsettling performance offering a darkly twisted counterpoint to Anthony Minghella's glossy direction, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a suspense thriller that lingers."[9] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 76 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[10] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

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".[12] 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".[13]

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".[14]

Charlotte O'Sullivan of Sight & 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".[15] Time named it one of the ten best films of the year and called it a "devious twist on the Patricia Highsmith crime novel".[16]

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."[17] Berardinelli compared the film unfavorably with the previous adaptation, Purple Noon, which he gave four stars.[18] 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."[19]

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".[20]

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".[21]

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".[22]

Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has cited The Talented Mr. Ripley as one of his favorite films of all time.[23]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
1999 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Jude Law Nominated [24]
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Original Score Gabriel Yared Nominated
Best Art Direction Roy Walker (art director)
Bruno Cesari (set decorator)
Best Costume Design Ann Roth
Gary Jones
2000 BAFTA Awards Best Film William Horberg
Tom Sternberg
Nominated [25]
Best Direction Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jude Law Won
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Cate Blanchett Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella 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 The Talented Mr. Ripley 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 The Talented Mr. Ripley Nominated [26]
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 The Talented Mr. Ripley Nominated
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Actor Matt Damon Nominated
Best Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Score Gabriel Yared Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
2000 London Film Critics Circle Awards British Supporting Actor of the Year Jude Law Nominated
British Screenwriter of the Year Anthony Minghella 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 Top Ten Films The Talented Mr. Ripley Nominated [27]
Best Director Anthony Minghella Won
Best Supporting Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Won
2000 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
1999 Satellite Awards Best Film The Talented Mr. Ripley Nominated
Best Director Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Drama Jude Law Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Editing Walter Murch Nominated
2000 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Actor Matt Damon Nominated
Choice Movie: Breakout Star Jude Law Nominated
Choice Movie: Drama The Talented Mr. Ripley Nominated
Choice Movie: Liar Matt Damon Nominated
2000 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Anthony Minghella Nominated


The Talented Mr Ripley is the third big-screen Ripley adaptation, following Purple Noon (1960) and The American Friend (1977). It was followed by Ripley's Game (2002) and Ripley Under Ground (2005), but none of the films form an official series. In April 2024, the television series Ripley, also an adaptation of Highsmith's 1955 novel, was released.[28]


  1. ^ Since the acquisition of Miramax by ViacomCBS (now Paramount Global), Paramount owns the worldwide rights to the film.


  1. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)". BBFC. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  3. ^ Ojumu, Akin (January 30, 2000). "Bad will hunting". The Guardian. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Bricker, Tierney (December 12, 2019). "20 Secrets About The Talented Mr. Ripley Revealed". E! News. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Jude Law Breaks Down His Career, from 'Sherlock Holmes' to 'The New Pope'. Vanity Fair. January 14, 2020. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2020 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ a b "Film locations for the Talented Mr. Ripley". Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  7. ^ Interview with Matt Damon – Mr. Ripley. November 14, 2009. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2017 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ The Talented Mr. Ripley: Jude Law Exclusive Interview. January 14, 2015. Archived from the original on November 17, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2017 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  10. ^ "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Metacritic.
  11. ^ "Talented Mr. Ripley, The (1999)". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 24, 1999). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 12, 2022 – via
  13. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 24, 1999). "Stealing a New Life, Carnal, Glamorous And Worth the Price". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2024.
  14. ^ Schwarzbaum, Lisa (January 7, 2000). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  15. ^ O'Sullivan, Charlotte (March 2000). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Sight & Sound. Archived from the original on May 11, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  16. ^ "The Best Cinema of 1999". Time. March 2000. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  17. ^ Berardinelli, James. "The Talented Mr. Ripley". Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  18. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Purple Noon (Plein Soleil)". Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  19. ^ Berardinelli, James. "James Berardinelli Top 100: #86: Purple Noon". Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  20. ^ Sarris, Andrew (December 26, 1999). "The Year at the Movies: Overlong, Overambitious". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on October 8, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  21. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (February 25, 2000). "The Talented Mr. Ripley". The Guardian. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  22. ^ Taubin, Amy (December 21, 1999). "From Riches to Rags: Ugly Americans and Plucky Irish". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  23. ^ Henckel von Donnersmarck, Florian (March 7, 2015). Kino! (in German) (1. Aufl ed.). Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag. ISBN 978-3518465134.
  24. ^ "Nominees & Winners for the 72nd Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on November 9, 2014.
  25. ^ "Film in 2000". BAFTA Awards. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  26. ^ Higgins, Bill; Gray, Tim (December 20, 1999). "Globes' Beauty pageant". Variety. Los Angeles. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  27. ^ "1999 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  28. ^ Hudspeth, Christopher (March 4, 2024). "In 'Ripley', Andrew Scott Reinvents Himself: Get to Know the Cast and Story". Netflix. Retrieved April 5, 2024.

External links[edit]