“Ripley” review: Lies left behind | WORLD
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TELEVISION | Netflix series follows a coldhearted con man’s ever-growing web of schemes


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Rated TV-MA

AN ALL-STAR CAST and a riveting script earned The Talented Mr. Ripley five Oscar nominations 25 years ago. The new Netflix series Ripley is the sixth adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley novels and it compares favorably with the 1999 thriller.

Set in the 1960s, Ripley follows the familiar story with some variations. The wealthy parents of Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) hire Tom Ripley (Andrew Scott) to go to Italy and convince their playboy son to return home. Instead, Tom ingratiates himself with Dickie and moves into his seaside villa. Dickie’s wealth beguiles Tom, but his host eventually tires of the relationship and tells Tom to leave. Tom murders Dickie and assumes his identity in another city. To hold off the polizia and Dickie’s concerned acquaintances and girlfriend Marge (Dakota Fanning), Tom invents increasingly sophisticated lies and schemes.

Ripley is not the tale of a small-time young con man who abandons himself to insatiable greed, as was Matt Damon’s relatable Tom Ripley character. In Ripley, Tom is already a coldhearted con man when he takes the Greenleafs’ deal. Director (and Schindler’s List screenwriter) Steven Zaillian presents no s­ympathetic characters but builds tension in cryptic details. Is a bank clerk’s double take a meaningless glance, or does she suspect Tom? Will a stolen gemstone he treasures lead to his undoing?

Ripley is the first of the adaptations to be filmed in black-and-white. Zaillian’s camera lingers on Italy’s stone details—an eyeless cherub, a moonlit ancient alley, a dilapidated atelier—­evoking a noir quality as striking as the series’ oft-referenced paintings of the Italian master Caravaggio. Like Tom Ripley, Caravaggio was a killer. And like Ripley, he spent much of his life fleeing his sin.

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



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