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Ripley (TV Series Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Series

SUMMARY

Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley character of a con man in the 1960s hired to bring a rich man's layabout son back home from Italy is brought back to life in this new Netflix series.

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

This new Netflix show, Ripley, becomes the third incarnation of Patricia Highsmith’s original character whose shady exploits fueled four subsequent novels. It is also the first adaptation to appear as an 8-episode series rather than as the two feature-length films that preceded it: the 1960 French version Purple Noon starring a 25-year-old Alain Delon and the 1999 American movie The Talented Mr. Ripley with a 29-year-old Matt Damon in the title role. Oscar-winning writer-director Steven Zaillian has cast a much older actor, Andrew Scott, as Tom Ripley and eschewed color cinematography for a stunning  black-and-white production.

Set in the 1960s, professional scammer Tom Ripley gets hired by wealthy shipbuilder Herbert Greenleaf (Kenneth Lonergan) to bring his prodigal son Dickie (Johnny Flynn) back from Italy to New York. Tom accepts the assignment and Greenleaf’s money to visit Atrani where Dickie is trying to become a painter while his girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Dakota Fanning) is writing a travel guide to this picturesque seaside town. On meeting Dickie, Tom reveals the senior Greenleaf’s plans and gets invited to stay at Dickie’s villa.  Later, Tom gets introduced to successful playwright Freddie Miles (Eliot Sumner) who invites Dickie and Marge on a Christmas skiing trip in Cortina.

Tom soon becomes entranced by Dickie’s lavish lifestyle and wardrobe. When the pair rent a small boat in San Remo, Dickie tells Tom about the Cortina Christmas trip and makes a point about Tom’s not being invited. In a fit of pique, Tom kills Dickie with an oar and tosses his body overboard. Back in Atrani, Tom packs up Dickie’s clothes and typewriter, sells Dickie’s jewelry and makes plans to sell Dickie’s yacht as well. He next informs Marge that Dickie  has moved to Rome.

  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 101 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in episode 103 of RIPLEY. Photo Credit: Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021 Netflix, Inc.
  • Ripley. Renato Solpietro as Carlo in Episode 104 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 104 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 104 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 105 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. (L to R) Margherita Buy as Signora Buffi and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 105 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Maurizio Lombardi as Inspector Ravini in Episode 106 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Margherita Buy as Signora Buffi in Episode 106 of RIPLEY. Cr. Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 101 of RIPLEY. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 102 of RIPLEY. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 102 of RIPLEY. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in episode 102 of RIPLEY. Photo Credit: Lorenzo Sisti/NETFLIX © 2021 Netflix, Inc.
  • Ripley. (L to R) Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 102 of RIPLEY. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Eliot Sumner as Freddie Miles in Episode 105 of RIPLEY. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. (L to R) Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Eliot Sumner as Freddie Miles in Episode 102 of RIPLEY. Cr. Stefano Cristiano Montesi/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood in Episode 106 of RIPLEY. Cr. Stefano C. Montesi/NETFLIX © 2021
  • Ripley. (L to R) Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley and John Malkovich as Reeves Minot in Episode 108 of RIPLEY. Cr. Stefano C. Montesi/NETFLIX © 2022
  • Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 101 of RIPLEY. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

After renting a Rome apartment, Tom, now living as Dickie and forging his signature on the Greenleaf bank account,  sends letters typed on the dead man’s typewriter to give the impression that Dickie is alive.  When Freddie makes a surprise visit to Tom’s apartment he blurts out that he knows all about Tom’s sketchy background—a move that gets his skull bashed in, and his body stripped of his passport and abandoned in his Fiat.  After the police discover Freddie’s corpse, the murder becomes a major news story. Inspector Pietro Ravini  (Maurizio Lombardi) questions Tom who has now assumed Dickie’s identity. Meanwhile Marge visits Rome to find Dickie only to have Tom tell her that he has just departed. Ravini is now on the trail of Tom Ripley who he believes has disappeared, as a possible link to the murder case he is still investigating.

Tom rents a luxury apartment in Venice, and, wearing a disguise, convinces Inspector Ravini that Ripley is still alive. While it looks like Ripley will pull off his impersonation and continue living the high life, the final episode has a twist athat could not only jeopardize his plans but leave the door ajar for a Season 2.

Given the much greater length of this new Ripley, viewers will become better acquainted with the title character and witness how he manages to avoid being taken down as an imposter. Andrew Scott’s performance is far more nuanced and convincing than that rendered by either Delon or Damon. The narrow escapes that Scott’s Ripley concocts work extremely well with the exception of his so-called disguise during Inspector Ravini’s questioning that, even in dim lighting, would have fooled no one let alone a veteran police detective. That quibble aside, this is a well-crafted neo-noir series inhabited by a good group of supporting actors and one that delivers a very different ending. What also sets this version apart from its predecessors is award-winning cinematographer Robert Elswit’s amazing camera work that shifts from Caravaggio’s entrancing paintings to the numerous on-location shots of picturesque Italian locations that give viewers the sense of being there. Even if you have seen the previous Ripley films, this one gives the story a fresh face with outstanding results. Highly recommended.


Ripley is streaming now on Netflix


  • Rating Certificate: TV-MA
  • Series Director: Steven Zaillian
  • Streaming Service: Netflix
  • Num. Eps.: 8
  • Release Date: 4 April 2024
  • Studios & Distributors: Dive | Endemol Shine North America | Entertainment 360 | Filmrights | Showtime Networks | Netflix
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Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley character of a con man in the 1960s hired to bring a rich man's layabout son back home from Italy is brought back to life in this new Netflix series.Ripley (TV Series Review)