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The Talented Mr. Ripley

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The Talented Mr. Ripley is the title of:

Highsmith won an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for this novel, which first introduced the character of Tom Ripley. He would return in the novels Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game, The Boy Who Followed Ripley and Ripley Underwater

The Talented Mr Ripley was first filmed as Plein Soleil (also known as Purple Noon) in 1960. It was directed by Rene Clement and starred Alain Delon as Ripley.

Missing image
TheTalentedMrRipley.jpg
DVD sleeve for the 1999 film. (Left to right) Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Matt Damon.

The 1999 film version, known as The Talented Mister Ripley, had the full title of The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate Talented Mr. Ripley. This version starred Matt Damon as 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 (also created for the film) and James Rebhorn as Herbert Greenleaf.

It was filmed mainly in Italy with famous landmarks in the cities of Rome and Venice being used as a backdrop for the narrative. An opera scene features the duel between Lensky and Onegin from Eugene Onegin.

Contents

Academy Award nominations

It received Academy Award nominations in the following categories:


The plot of the novel

Ripley was a young man struggling to make a living in New York City, with no prospects but with a talent to survive by doing whatever is required. When approached by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to travel to Italy to persuade Greenleaf's errant son, Dickie, to return to the United States and assume his responsibilities, Ripley sees this as an opportunity. Shortly after his arrival in Italy, he meets Greenleaf and his girlfriend Marge Sherwood, and quickly insinuates himself into their lives. An old friend, Freddie Miles comes for a visit, and is immediately suspicious of Ripley's motives. His presence shatters Ripley's idyll and causes him to be pushed aside.

While Ripley blames Freddie for this, it becomes clear that Greenleaf has made his own decision. Greenleaf has a reputation for discarding people when he has grown tired of them, and he begins to resent Ripley's constant presence and growing dependence. Ripley's own feelings are complicated by his desire to maintain the new wealthy lifestyle Greenleaf has afforded him, and by his growing attraction to Greenleaf. The two men travel away together for a holiday but when Greenleaf finally confronts Ripley and tells him he'll be returning him the USA after the holiday, Ripley begins to make plans. The two hire a small boat, and Ripley murders Greenleaf onboard, then sinking the boat containing the body.

He assumes Greenleaf's identity, carefully providing communications to Marge to assure her that Greenleaf has merely deserted her while living off Greenleaf's allowance. Freddie Miles suspects something is wrong, and when he comes to visit Greenleaf in his apartment in Rome, discovers Ripley in his place. The confrontation results in Ripley murdering Freddie. Ripley's existence becomes a cat and mouse game with the Italian police with Ripley managing to keep himself safe by restoring his own identity and moving to Venice. In succession, Marge, Greenleaf's father and an American private detective confront Ripley. He contemplates murdering Marge, but when he finally realises that they have accepted his story, changes his mind. The story concludes with Ripley travelling to Greece.

Variations to the plotline used in the film

The film follows Highsmith's plot very closely, but in his screenplay Minghella made some subtle changes, and introduced characters to complicate Ripley's dilemma.

In the novel, Marge is frumpy (described as having a "gourdlike figure") and insecure and she may be one in a line of flings and women used by Greenleaf. As portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow, she is a more compatible counterpoint to Greenleaf, and the film suggests in several scenes that Greenleaf's feelings for her are genuine.

The film also explores Ripley's fascination with Greenleaf as more overtly sexual. While this is alluded to in the novel, the films expands upon Ripley's feelings of jealousy and inadequacy, and creates greater tension between the characters.

The motivation for the murder of Greenleaf is treated quite differently although the setting is identical. In the film, Ripley kills Greenleaf in a moment of rage after being mocked and rejected by him. He then quickly covers his tracks in his opportunistic manner. In the novel the murder was premeditated, with Ripley planning each detail in advance and then carrying it out.

Minghella created one character and modified another to provide Ripley with additional complications. Meredith Logue is an American heiress who is bored by her family's wealth but quite content to spend the money. She meets Ripley shortly after his arrival in Italy, and he introduces himself to her as Greenleaf. With their shared contempt for their families, she feels she has found a kindred spirit in Ripley (as Greenleaf), and the two have a romance of sorts. Her presence in Rome causes Ripley problems when he is with Marge, as Meredith who knows him only as Greenleaf keeps appearing at inopportune moments.

At the film's conclusion Ripley is travelling on an ocean liner, having escaped detection for his murders, when Meredith once more appears, by coincidence, in his life. As he appraises her, the audience is left to wonder if she is in danger, but as she is with a crowd of people he leaves her alone. Returning to his cabin he meets Peter Smith-Kingsley, a very minor figure in the novel whose role is expanded for the film. Their conversation suggests that he and Ripley have become lovers, and as they talk, Ripley strangles him. The film ends with this murder, another example of Ripley's opportunistic nature allowing him to commit murder when his deceptions are likely to be discovered. The audience must assume that he will complete his voyage as Greenleaf because of Meredith's presence on board.

External links

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