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The Talented Mr. Ripley is a 1999 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Anthony Minghella. An adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel of the same name, the film stars Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge Sherwood, Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Miles.

The novel was previously filmed twice. In 1957, a one-hour version was produced for the TV anthology series Studio One, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, though no recording survives. In 1960, a full-length film version was released, titled Purple Noon (French: Plein soleil) and directed by René Clément, starring Alain Delon in his first major role. Claude Chabrol's 1968 film Les biches uses many elements of Highsmith's novel but switches the gender of the main characters.

The Talented Mr. Ripley was a critical and commercial success. It received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Law.

Plot

While working at a fancy party as a pianist, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is approached by shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf, who believes that Ripley attended Princeton with his son, Dickie (Jude Law), because Ripley is wearing a borrowed Princeton jacket. Greenleaf gives him a tour of his shipyard and recruits Ripley to travel to Italy, where Dickie has settled, to persuade Dickie to return to the United States. Greenleaf offers Ripley a $1000 bonus and all expenses paid. After a first-class ocean liner voyage, Ripley pretends to be Dickie in the Italian ship terminal and strikes up a friendship with an American socialite, Meredith Logue (Cate Blanchett).

In the fictional seaside village of Mongibello, Ripley befriends Dickie and his girlfriend, Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow), claiming to be his former Princeton classmate. Ripley enjoys Dickie's extravagant lifestyle, and becomes obsessed with Dickie himself. Eventually, Dickie tires of him and starts spending time with his patrician, socialite friend Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who treats Ripley with contempt. The night they return from Rome, Dickie catches Ripley dressed in his clothes and dancing in front of a mirror, which disturbs him. When Dickie impregnates a local woman, he rejects her and she drowns herself. Ripley, aware of what has happened, promises to keep it a secret. After Dickie's father cuts off Ripley's travel funds, Dickie cancels a trip to Venice and tells Ripley they should part ways, but offers to take him on a final trip to San Remo. They argue on a small boat, and Dickie says he has had enough of Ripley and is going to marry Marge. Ripley insinuates that Dickie is rejecting him because he is afraid of the feelings they have developed for each other. They struggle, and Ripley kills Dickie with an oar. He takes Dickie's belongings and scuttles the boat.

Realizing that people mistake him for Dickie, Ripley decides to assume his identity. He forges a letter to Marge, convincing her that Dickie has broken off their relationship and moved to Rome. He creates the illusion that Dickie is still alive by checking into one hotel as Dickie and another as himself, fabricating an exchange of communications between the two. Through forgery, he is able to draw on Dickie's allowance, which allows him to live lavishly. He runs into Meredith, who still knows him as Dickie, in the Gucci store in Rome, and accepts an invitation from her to attend an opera with her family. Ripley's ruse is threatened when he unexpectedly runs into Marge and her friend Peter Smith-Kingsley at the opera. Ripley rushes Meredith out of the opera house on a pretext, then breaks it off with her to prevent himself from being exposed. Freddie shows up at Ripley's apartment looking for Dickie. When the landlady addresses Ripley as "Dickie", Freddie realizes the fraud. Ripley bludgeons him to death and disposes of the body. After the body is discovered, police officers led by Inspector Roverini visit the apartment to question "Dickie". To evade the police and Marge, both of whom are looking for Dickie, Ripley forges a suicide note with "Dickie" claiming responsibility for Freddie's death. Under his real name, Ripley then travels to Venice, where he re-encounters Marge's friend Peter. Peter acts as Ripley's interpreter for a meeting with the local police to discuss Dickie, and Ripley is alarmed when he hears that the Venetian police have summoned an inspector from Rome. He is relieved to find that the investigator who arrives is not Roverini (who knows Ripley as Dickie), but a different officer who has never met Ripley before.

Dickie's father travels to Italy to meet with the police, bringing along a private detective, Alvin MacCarron. Ripley prepares to kill Marge when she discovers Dickie's rings in his possession and begins to deduce what has been going on, but they are interrupted by Peter, with whom Ripley has become very close. Mr Greenleaf dismisses Marge's suspicions, and MacCarron reveals to Ripley that the police are convinced that Dickie, who had a history of violence, murdered Freddie before killing himself. MacCarron further indicates that out of appreciation for Ripley's loyalty to Dickie – and to ensure Ripley's silence – Greenleaf intends to bequeath a portion of Dickie's trust fund to him.

Free and clear of his crimes, Ripley boards a ship to Greece with Peter; it is implied they are now lovers. Ripley is surprised to encounter Meredith, who still believes he is Dickie and also knows Peter socially. Ripley kisses her and promises to talk later. In his cabin, Peter tells Ripley he saw him kiss Meredith, and Ripley makes weak excuses. Ripley realizes that he has to kill Peter, as Meredith is traveling with her family and would be missed. Ripley admits that he lied about who he is, and laments that he will always be alone because of what he has done. He asks Peter to tell him good things about Tom Ripley, and then, sobbing, he strangles Peter.

Cast

  • Matt Damon as Tom Ripley
  • Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge Sherwood
  • Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf
  • Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Miles
  • Jack Davenport as Peter Smith-Kingsley
  • James Rebhorn as Herbert Greenleaf
  • Sergio Rubini as Inspector Roverini
  • Philip Baker Hall as Alvin MacCarron
  • Celia Weston as Aunt Joan
  • Rosario Fiorello as Fausto
  • Stefania Rocca as Silvana
  • Ivano Marescotti as Colonnello Verrecchia
  • Silvana Bosi as Ermelinda
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