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The Talented Mr. Ripley

Updated on March 1, 2014
JT Walters profile image

JT Walters has a Master's of Science in Behavoralism from Florida State University. She is a researcher in many professions in Florida.

The Talented Mr. Ripley


The Talented Mr. Ripley

We all know the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley but did you know it was based on a book written in 1955 by Patricia Highsmith? And that it was a trilogy; The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Underground and Ripley's Game. It was an easy read so far. I am about 190 pages in about 3 hours. It is very different for the movie but that is not to diminish the movie or the book. I believe each project is equally as good and should be judged as stand alone projects. But when considering both projects together they are quite telling of the anthropological shifts in values in American Society from the 1955(s) to the 1999(s).

What would be telling would be that The Talented Mr. Ripley in both the book and the film would be considered more socially acceptable in our society in 2014. The talented Mr. Ripley is not only a socio-path but his character moral flexibility changes with each character he encounters. Noticeable, is his inability to function in group dynamics and his habitual isolation and the one the trappings of each character with his manipulations for success. There of course is the class disparity also in this tale which Ripley attempts to transcend however the one thing he can not transcend is himself and ultimately traps himself thus becoming a stranger to himself. Anthony Mingella was a superb director and adapted this to film exceptionally well. He combines some of the elements from the trilogy into the screen adaptation.

This film has the extraordinarily talented recently deceased Philip Seymour Hoffman. The cast was phenomenal and Matt Damon carries portray Tom Ripley exceptionally. The same is true of Paltrow's performance and the unconquerable Jude Law as Dickie GreenLeaf. The casting was exceptional in this movie.

For simplicity sake I will just highlight a few examples within the context of the book versus and the movie. First the morality shift is tremendous.


Chemistry Between Law and Damon

How the Movie is Different then the Film

  • First in the book Tom Ripley is a friend of Herbert Richard Greenleaf aka Dickie. They have mutual friends in New York albeit colorful friends and acquaintances but none the less they know similar people and have met. There is not the class separation between the wealthy and the struggling impoverished in 1955 as there is and was in the 1999 movie.
  • Second, Dickie didn't attend an Ivy League School as portrayed in the movie. Tom Ripley hadn't either but that is evident in both the book and the movie.
  • Third, Ms. Logue and Mr. Ripley never meet on the Cunard Line.
  • Fourth, Dickie and Marge's relationships is much more causal than that is portrayed in the movie and no one is having sex in the book. Unlike the movie which portrays Dickie as sleeping with everyone.
  • Fifth, homosexuality is barely mentioned at all in the book were it is wholeheartedly implied in the movie.
  • Sixth, in the book the rich are far less suspicious they are vulnerable than in the movie. In the book Mr. Ripley has it over on everyone because the wealthy have an air of confidence and superiority in which they believe their money protects them. While in the movie Dickie and Marge are far more suspicious of Tom Ripley.
  • Seventh, Freddie Miles plays a much smaller role in the book than in the movie.Eighth, in the movie Tom Ripley only regrets killing Dickie Greenleaf while in the book his murder is premediated and without remorse not but methodical and clinical.

Hoffman Interview

Damon Interview

Moral Paradigm Shifts in Society Over the Last 45 Years in the USA

Working under the assumption that The Talented Mr. Ripley is a measure of anthropological progress in American culture over the last 45 years, which is a huge assumption, what does this mean?

It means the wealthy people no longer feel an obligation to those less fortunate nor do they have guilt about their wealth like they did back in 1955.

And there is a significant shift in attitudes towards homosexuality in the USA. Arguably, from a pathological perspective Tom Ripley would be considered a serial killer not a desperate ambitions man but the gratuitous violence associated with Mr. Ripley's ambition seems more tolerable in the 1999. Does this mean we have evolved or regressed evolutionary in the USA? I will leave that for you to decide.

Also it would seem promiscuity seems more socially acceptable today then in 1955 and that says a lot because girls got pregnancy in High School in the 1950(s) when they got pinned.

More sex, more violence and less guilt. Are we better or worse as a culture?

There are also difference in the book versus the movie for instance Dickie paints in the book but plays Jazz in the movie. Marge is a wall flower which is completely lost when they cast Gwyneth Paltrow In the movie. But Jude Law plays Dickie Greenleaf to a tee. I think it is perhaps his best performance. If you didn't love Jude Law before this movie you will after you see The Talented Mr. Ripley. I believe Anthony Minghella wrote and directed the movie and he is just outstanding.

Cate Blanchett was perfect to play the character of Ms. Logue and Philip Seymour Hoffman gave a brilliant performance.

In my final analysis I would say the book The Talented Mr. Ripley and the movie are both master pieces and each equally worthy of your time. They are classic anthropological measures of moral and cultural progressivism in the USA over the last half century. In a hundred years anthropologists will look at the disparity between the book The Talented Mr. Ripley and the movie Talented Mr. Ripley and using them both as measuring stick of the mitral decline in a progressive age.

Moral Justification

The Talented Mr. Ripley

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Wealth in America

Do you believe wealth in America gives a false sense of protection from vulnerability?

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The Talented Mr. Ripley

The Talenetd Mr. Ripley


This article was originally written in 2011. Sadly, Anthony Minghella passed away in 2008. In early 2014 Philip Seymour Hoffman died due to a toxic mix of drugs. These two great talents as well as the talents of all the other actors are exceptional in The Talented Mr. Ripley. It is the one place were you can celebrate their life's work.

In honor of those who have passed who worked not his film and those who are living who were on this film, I bought. Immediately after the death of Hoffman, I watched this film again and thought there would never be a film that even came close to this one. I smiled to myself imagining Hoffman and Minghella spirits at beach side community having wine at an outside resturant. We have lost two incredibly people who were apart of The Talented Mr. Ripley. But their work endure and they will have forever touched our lives in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Rest in Peace and thank you.


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    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Peter,

      I am trying to make the most of my down time reading a book in a few hours a day. It is part of my relaxation routine. I have a theory studying, writing and reading are western ways of meditating.

      I thought an anthropologocal analyss of the book veruses the movie over 50 years would provide rare insight to cultural progress in the USA. Or maybe just a good book and a good movie?

      Thanks for reading, commenting and providing feedback.


    • PETER LUMETTA profile image

      PETER LUMETTA 6 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Hi JT,

      Never read the book, didn't know there was one. I saw the movie when it came out so I am a little vague on the story but the analysis made it come back. Thank you for the review,