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Netflix’s original series Ripley is the best and most beautiful iteration of Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley so far – yes, including Anthony Minghella’s Academy Award nominated interpretation from 1999. Moreover, A written work by Highsmith follows Tom Ripley, an American con artist who goes to Italy on a fateful trip where he has been sent to find the shipbuilding heir as well as drag him away from his delusional affair with a wary Marge. Although it contains some rather irritating eccentricities, this adaptation by Steve Zaillian – screenwriter of Schindler’s List and creator of The Night Of – meticulously reproduces the most iconic scenes in this cerebral narrative that changes along with its central character (in this case played by Andrew Scott). 

It is visually stunning– you will be taken aback first –which speaks volumes for a show whose protagonist drags around a dead body in just its opening episode. Cinematographer Robert Elswit shoots in black-and-white to pay homage to indelible Italian films released contemporaneous with Tom’s 1961 jaunt to the Amalfi Coastline. (One of them, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, even lends its title to Episode 4.) And what about those shots?! Zaillan deftly integrates Dickie’s (Johnny Flynn) passion for painting into the storyline by comparing Caravaggio -style scenes featuring Tom versus scenes involving Caravaggio himself that were shot by Elswit. There is also a constant play of light and shadow reminiscent of Caravaggio throughout.” Even here Elswit shows off occasionally mimicking specific shots drawn from statues and paintings seen within this TV series .All of this combined with mid-20th-century Italian vibes is too much –lol! I am an unashamed aesthete who wanted to kiss my TV screen at times.

The next detail one cannot help but notice about Ripley, is that the casting is unconventional. This isn’t a remark against Scott or Flynn, actors who are in their forties playing characters intended to be in their twenties. Then again, Scott could play an engrossing toaster; so, it’s not like he is incapable of pulling off 35. In this respect Zaillian gets on his side by presenting him as an older and wiser Tom Ripley who starts by paying rent through health insurance fraud and must take on a new persona to elude some bloody ends. Dickie fits comfortably into the role assigned to him with Flynn as well providing his character with a gruffness that suits Dickie’s hot-and-cold attitude towards Tom. However, Eliot Sumner taking up Freddie Miles is a puzzler in itself since he just gives it this one tone which does not work for Sumner as Freddie Miles: Threat to Tom; Loose end in plan; Played by Eliot Sumner; Performed by Sumner until “Nice pen” can be used instead of “Ripley”.

There is a change here in the script because of Scott’s age, but it feels much less natural than before. Instead of heightening tension in key sequences, Sumner sadly lacks what Highsmith called “the kind of ox who might beat up somebody he thought was a pansy”. To make up for this Zaillian resorts to implying rather strangely that Freddie is gay.” He also elects to eliminate any ironic tone or exposition that would have given Scott more opportunities to truly engage with his character resulting in a flatter depiction of psychopathy from Tom.” At least some objects were treated similarly between page and screen such as “Nice pen,” which could serve as an alternative title for Ripley.

The application of these inconsistencies may cause Highsmith to restlessly shift in her eternal grave. However, the other choices made by Zaillian enhance the story itself. Most of the other characters are great, especially the no-nonsense police detective played by Maurizio Lombardi. Marge is played with a sympathetic complexity that is occasionally absent from the book by Dakota Fanning. Ripley also uses its visual magnificence and sound as an ingredient for each scene.

Just like at the end credits of any episode when you listen up closely you can hear audio hints about what’s coming next in another one.

Those are clues, tastes them! Ripley on Netflix works best when watched in moderation, despite being available for streaming. No episodes have gimmicky cliffhangers that would make you watch more; instead, it would be better if you take a little break before going into another episode.

Such kind of meticulousness calls attention just as much as it does to with this series.


For fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley, there’s splendid faithfulness to Patricia Highsmith’s novel in Ripley; yet, certain artistic decisions may leave one wondering or even shocked. Other than Tom Ripleys’ absences from A Single Man which appears too often for comfort here and there amidst Andrew Scott’s otherwise perfectly pitched anti-hero portrayal, newcomers should anticipate devouring feast led by their eyes and ears through Andrew Scott’s performance sell his antihero well?. On a craft level it is head and shoulders above anything made for television over the past five years – easily one of the most beautiful shows ever aired on TV.Taking your time between episodes will give you value for money and if you haven’t read then do after not before.

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