'Ripley' review: The Talented Mr. Andrew Scott!

A slow-burn, Ripley is a gorgeously produced work


Ripley, Netflix's noirish monochrome take on the crimes and escapades of an unredeemable man, is indeed charming, not for the story it tells as you may already know it, read it, and watched it as Patricia Highsmith's 'Ripliad' book series has seen many onscreen adaptations, but how the creators chose to tell it—in a joyless and bleak fashion. Tom Ripley is an amoral man, someone who is never been troubled by commonplace feelings like guilt, remorse, or shame. He envies the rich and their ways, even as he desires to take all that belongs to them and be one among them. In fact, he steals more than their wealth, Ripley robs them of their identity, their very own selves.

Set in the 1960s, Netflix's eight-episode adaptation of Highsmith’s novel, starring an extremely versatile Andrew Scott as the cold, calculative, and psychopathic Ripley, begins with a down-on-his-luck conman being approached by a shipping magnate, Herbert Greenleaf, asking him to help convince the wealthy man's wayward son, Richard 'Dickie' Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) return to the US from Italy. Although Ripley barely knows Dickie, the offer is too tempting to pass up. So, he heads to Italy and begins to ingratiate himself into the opulent, carefree life of Dickie and his bohemian girlfriend Marge Sherwood, played fabulously by Dakota Fanning. You know what happens next, but if you do not, I do envy you, because the show holds plenty of surprises for you.

Now, if you still remember The Talented Mr. Ripley and are hesitant to give the Nextflix take a try, know that Ripley is a lot different from the 1999 version directed by Anthony Minghella, beginning from the way leads in both the versions are designed—Matt Damon's Ripley is more fun-loving and gay, while Scott's Ripley is more reserved, contemptuous, and ambiguous when it comes to his sexuality. And that's just the beginning of how the two takes differ.

With Academy Award winner Steven Zaillian at its helm, Ripley is a dark and chilling show that builds an unsettling mood from the initial frames. The frames are never crowded, most of the time it is just Scott's Ripley (and his next victim) on screen, making it almost feel like the audience is always alone with him, as an accomplice to his murders and inner demons. Scott comes up with an incredibly methodical and layered performance; layered not for his moral ambiguities—doubt not, he is pure evil—but because of the way he takes on different personas when it suits him. The only semblance of normal human emotion that Ripley has is his pride, and this brings a sense of comic relief to the otherwise bleak and melancholic show that never gives you a sense of pleasure as this isn't a show about a normal man, but one that is the epitome of malice.

Maurizio Lombardi as the charismatic Inspector Pietro Ravini hot on the trail of Ripey is a treat to watch as he brings in a sense of gravitas befitting a noir series. Fanning plays Sherwood with dry humour as she despises Ripley and seems to be the only person who understands the person he really is.

The choice of monochrome cinematography for this complex tale of lies, deceit, murder, and cover-up helps in building the sense of an era where one could disappear without a trace if one so wished. It also lends Italy, where most of the show is set, an old-timey charm even as the creators of the show make the cities where Ripley travels to in the country look like ghost towns. A slow-burn, Ripley is indeed a gorgeously produced work that is sure to delight fans of crime and noir shows.

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