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by Victoria Alexander

Gorgeous production but main characters are dull and boring. A startling revelation is Eliot Sumner whose presentation must be entirely their own without the director’s interference.

I have not read Patricia Highsmith’s book. I am not going to compare Netflix’s limited series RIPLEY, written and directed by Steven Zaillian, with the 1999 film, THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY, directed by Anthony Minghella.

The gorgeous RIPLEY production, with cinematography by Robert Elswit, makes Italy a black and white magical marvel. With eight episodes, the characters are given more time to develop and showcase their lives. Everything is perfect, except the casting.

Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott) is a petty criminal using his talents as a forger to swindle people out of money. He strikes good luck when a wealthy man, Herbert Greenleaf (Kenneth Lonergan) hires him to bring his son back from Italy. The son, “Dickie” Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn), is a trust fund dilettante who has been living a leisure lifestyle of privilege.

Casting Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley meant all the other principals needed to be in their late 30s. What ship building magnet wants his ne’re-do-well son back after wasting a decade finding himself?

Tom agrees to try to bring Dickie back to New York. With all expenses paid and new clothes, Tom heads to Italy. Dickie lives a fantastic life. He has been trying out various creative outlets. He’s painting now. He lives in a mansion, has a housekeeper/cook and a girlfriend, Marge (Dakota Fanning). Dickie and Marge are a passionless pair. Marge is writing a book and needs to live on her own. Dickie is painting. Writing and painting are both isolated endeavors, so why isn’t Marge living in Dickie’s enormous house?

Tom is so boring, why does Dickie take a liking to him? Is Dickie lonely? He invites Tom to stay at his mansion. What does Tom offer Dickie? Three dull people. Okay, Tom is dull because he is scoping out the terrain. His past criminal activity now appears to be more like an opportunity than a career. Tom is not very clever.

Dickie is clueless. He is naïve and feckless. He is too visually mature to be so trusting of someone who turns up on a beach claiming to have met him once at a party.

Then Dickie’s friend Freddie (Eliot Sumner) turns up. Freddie is another wealthy scion who immediately questions Tom’s intrusion on Dickie’s life. While Tom, Dickie and Marge are all subdued following their director’s pacing, tempo, and narrative style, Sumner's Freddie leaps outside the director’s disciplined setting.

Summer’s line readings are seductive. Their Freddie is a star-making performance.

Marge cannot be merely the girlfriend of a rich guy, so her role is expanded but it has no weight. Marge is featureless. With all the traveling and her rich friends, why doesn’t Marge have a personal look? Why does Dickie love her? How long is she flogging a travel book with photos? The photos show nothing special. What keen insight does Marge have?

You know what happens. So now we will see the real, cunning Tom? Do we see him inhabit the identity of Dickie? As enviable Dickie’s life is, it’s really Tom’s obsession with class. If it is a sexual obsession, it’s muted. Tom never looks at Dickie with sexual desire. Tom gets more pleasure copying Dickie’s handwriting. Will Tom become an exotic creation with a monthly allowance? I hoped to see Tom change, but he doesn’t change at all. He still slouches, dresses badly and shows no signs of adopting a cultured upbringing. He learned nothing from Dickie except his taste in shoes.

One amusing aspect is every hotel manager and porter look at Tom with hungry eyes. What’s up with that? Do they see something lurking beneath Tom’s affable surface?

At 47 years old, Andrew Scott has reached prominence playing FLEABAG’s “Hot Priest” and starring in 2023’s ALL OF US STRANGERS. Scott does not see Tom Ripley as a villain, just misunderstood. Does a lousy childhood make a killer? Dakota Fanning is 31 and Johnny Flynn is 41. The problems of trust fund socialites past 35 is not something audiences can easily relate to. Woe to poor Dickie, living with a Picasso painting, a 2-mast sailing boat, and custom-made shoes.


The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Critic. For a complete list of

Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to:

Contributing to: FilmsInReview:

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society


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