The Talented Mr. Ripley starred 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) 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.
Tom Ripley is a young man struggling to make a living in New York City. When working at a party, playing the piano in a borrowed Princeton jacket, he is approached by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf, who believes him to be a Princeton alumnus. He asks Tom to travel to Italy to persuade Greenleaf's errant son, Dickie, to return to the United States. Ripley did not go to college at all and has never even met Dickie, but nevertheless goes along and agrees. Shortly after his arrival in Italy, Ripley meets Dickie Greenleaf and his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood. He quickly ingratiates himself into their lives. Over time Dickie begins to tire of his new friend, resenting Ripley's constant presence and growing dependence, especially after he learns that Tom has been lying about their days together at Princeton. Ripley's feelings are complicated by his desire to maintain the wealthy lifestyle Greenleaf has afforded him and by his growing sexual obsession with his new friend.
As a gesture to Ripley, Greenleaf agrees to travel with him on a short holiday to Sanremo. The two hire a small boat and go sailing. They begin arguing while on board, with Dickie rejecting and mocking Ripley. Enraged, Ripley attacks Dickie, smashing him with an oar and, in the ensuing struggle, accidentally kills him. Horrified, lets the boat drift to shore while holding Dickie's body in his arms. He then sinks the boat, with Dickie's body still on board, to conceal his crime.
When the hotel concierge mistakes Ripley for Greenleaf, Ripley realizes he can assume Greenleaf's identity. He takes on Dickie's signature and passport, and begins living off his allowance, while at the same time carefully providing communications to Marge to make her believe that Dickie has deserted her. Greenleaf's old friend Freddie Miles visits Ripley at what he supposes to be Greenleaf's apartment in Rome. He is immediately suspicious of Ripley. When Miles discovers Ripley's scam, Ripley murders him as well and dumps the body.
Over the next few weeks, Ripley's existence becomes a 'cat and mouse' game with the Italian police and Greenleaf's friends. Ripley must alternate between his pose as Dickie Greenleaf and his true identity as Tom Ripley. His predicament is complicated by Meredith Logue, a wealthy heiress he met while traveling to Italy, who believes Ripley to be Dickie Greenleaf. Ripley eventually resumes his own identity, forges a suicide note in Greenleaf's name, and moves to Venice. In quick succession, Marge, Dickie's father and an American private detective confront Ripley. Marge particularly suspects Ripley of involvement in Dickie's death, and Ripley prepares to murder her. He is interrupted when Marge's friend, Peter Smith-Kingsley, enters the apartment.
Towards the end of the film, the private detective reveals that Mr. Greenleaf has decided to give Ripley a portion of Dickie's income with the understanding that certain details about his son's past not be revealed to the Italian police. Ripley goes on a cruise with Smith-Kingsley, his new lover, only to discover that Meredith Logue is also on board the cruise. Logue knows Ripley only as Dickie Greenleaf, and Ripley realizes it will be impossible to keep Smith-Kingsley from discovering that he has been passing himself off as Greenleaf, since Peter and Meredith know each other and could eventually exchange words. He cannot solve this dilemma by murdering Logue, as she is traveling with a large family who will notice her disappearance. The movie concludes with a sobbing Ripley killing Smith-Kingsley to protect his secret, and resigning himself to a solitary life without love or acceptance.
In the novel, Marge is insecure and frumpy (described as having a "gourdlike figure") and she may be one in a line of Dickie Greenleaf's meaningless flings. As portrayed by Paltrow, she is an elegant woman who seems to be well matched with Greenleaf. Both film versions of the novel suggest that Greenleaf's feelings for her are genuine.
The 1999 film differs somewhat from the novel and the earlier film in its portrayal of Ripley. While the Ripley character in the novel has some sympathetic qualities, he is primarily a sociopath with no qualms about committing cold-blooded murder whenever it suits him. As portrayed in Minghella's film, however, he is an almost tragic figure motivated by his own self-hatred and not completely immune to guilt. This characterization received a certain amount of criticism. At the beginning of Highsmith's novel, Ripley is already posing fraudulently as a tax official and working on a moneymaking scam. He sends letters to people informing them that they owe further payments on their taxes. In the film, he works as a lavatory attendant and other blue-collar jobs.
The Greenleaf character in the film also differs somewhat from the novel. While Highsmith's characterization of him as a charismatic, spoiled playboy remains fundamentally intact, the character in Minghella's film has a darker side that is absent from the novel. In the film, he has a fierce temper that can give way to violence — his father sent him to Italy to escape publicity after he nearly killed a man in a barfight — and he heartlessly abandons a local woman he has impregnated, who eventually commits suicide.
The 1999 film portrays Ripley's fascination with Greenleaf as overtly sexual. While this is alluded to in the novel, the film 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 1999 film, Ripley kills Greenleaf in a moment of rage after being mocked and rejected. In the novel and in Plein Soleil, the murder is 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, who does not appear in the novel, 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.
Peter Smith-Kingsley is a minor character in the novel. In the film, he becomes Ripley's confidante and eventually his lover. In the novel, Ripley briefly considers murdering Peter and taking on his identity in place of Dickie Greenleaf's, but rejects the idea because he does not feel he could pass as Peter physically. In the film Ripley does murder Peter, although under different circumstances than contemplated in the novel. In the final scene of the film, audio of a sobbing Ripley strangling Peter to prevent his scheme from being revealed is played over a shot of Ripley, sitting alone.
The interior of Ripley's dismal basement apartment was actually the ground floor of a tenement on Second Avenue at 26th Street in the Gramercy district, but the exterior, with the steep flight of iron steps, is the tiny passageway of Franklin Place, between White Street and Franklin Street in Tribeca.
The cobbled square where Ripley gets off the bus is Ischia Ponte, below the towering 12th century Castello Aragonese which dominates the island's northeast coast. The best way to reach Ischia Ponte is by catching a bus, about a mile east of the ferry landing at Ischia Porto.
The private beach where Ripley first discovers Greenleaf and Marge is Bagno Antonio, between Ischia Ponte and Ischia Porte.
The main shopping street and town square of Mongibello, however, can be found on Procida, a neighboring island, twenty minutes away by ferry.
The Vesuvio nightclub, supposedly in Naples, where Greenleaf takes Ripley for a night on the town, is the Caffe Latino, Via Monte Testaccio 96 in Rome, whereas the Rome opera house, where Ripley poses as Greenleaf, is the Teatro San Carlo, Via San Carlo in Naples.
The San Remo jazz festival, where Ripley begins to realize that the idyll is coming to an end, is the seafront at Anzio, on the coast about 30 miles south of Rome (the real San Remo is up at the French border).
Ripley's Roman hotel, the Grand Hotel Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando 3, off Piazza della Repubblica, is in the Eternal City, as is the cafe where Freddie Miles turns up, on Piazza Navona opposite Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers.
When Ripley returns to Rome after Dickie's murder, he stays in an apartment on the fictitious 'Piazza Gioia', which is actually near the old Jewish Ghetto, on Piazza Mattei. The interior of the apartment‚ which also functioned as the Grand Hotel suite‚ is the 14th century Palazzo Taverna, Via di Monte Giordano 36.
After he moves on to Venice, Ripley stays in an apartment which is an amalgam of the abandoned Ca Sagredo and the Palazzo Mosto.
Marge, having arrived at the Santa Lucia Railway Station, at the northern end of Canal Grande, finally voices her suspicions about Greenleaf's disappearance at Venetian landmark Caffè Florian, Piazza San Marco 56-59.
The hotel where Ripley meets Greenleaf's father is the Europa e Regina, Calle Larga 22 Marzo, San Marco 2159 on the Canal Grande, facing the Chiesa della Salute.
|Best Supporting Actor||Jude Law|
|Academy Award for Art Direction|| Roy Walker|
|Best Costume Design|| Ann Roth|
|Academy Award for Best Original Music Score||Gabriel Yared|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Anthony Minghella|
|Best Actor||Matt Damon|
|Best Supporting Actor||Jude Law|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Drama Picture||The Talented Mr. Ripley|
|Best Original Music Score||Gabriel Yared|
|Best Director||Anthony Minghella|