“Ripley” by Steven Zaillian, our review

Ripley by Steven Zaillian, adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel, has been streaming on Netflix since April 4, 2024. Starring Andrew Scott, the series has captivated audiences, particularly fans of noir and neorealistic cinema. Below is our review, a treat for discerning viewers.

Ripley, Andrew Scott
Ripley, Andrew Scott
Condividi l'articolo

Ripley, Plot synopsis

In the monochromatic backdrop of 1961 New York, we meet Tom Ripley, a versatile and morally ambiguous con artist deeply entrenched in solitude. Tasked by magnate Herbert Greenleaf with a monumental assignment, Tom’s mission is to persuade Greenleaf’s son, Dickie, to return to the bustling city and embrace adult responsibilities. However, a fateful encounter with Dickie in Italy sets off a chain of events that will forever alter their lives. Tom’s decision to take on the job marks the inception of a complex existence filled with deceit, murder, and a web of false identities. Is it driven by greed or perhaps a deeper yearning for connection, revenge, or desperate love?

Ripley, The Review

Few series have the power to induce a sort of Stendhal syndrome, but Steven Zaillian‘s ‘Ripley‘ is one of them. A master of cinema, Zaillian, the Oscar-winning screenwriter for Spielberg‘s Schindler’s List, has also penned scripts for Scorsese‘s The Irishman and Gangs of New York, as well as Ridley Scott‘s American Gangster and Hannibal, among others.

A blend of noir and Fellini-esque neorealism, ‘Ripley‘, based on Patricia Highsmith‘s novel, transports us to the America and Italy of the 1960s, amid an economic boom. It’s a cinematic marvel that celebrates the sheer beauty of aesthetics and forms, infusing the screenplay with depth and significance, never falling into banality.

Scene Photography

Roger Elswit’s photography, an Oscar winner for “There Will Be Blood,” is a work of art. It effortlessly blends monochromatic tones with vibrant, rich colors reminiscent of Caravaggio’s paintings. This mirrors the tumultuous lives of both the painter and our protagonist, Tom Ripley, brought to life by Andrew Scott. While some may question the use of black and white, it’s remarkable how it captures the retro allure of 1940s film noir instead. However, commendable is the attempt to recreate, even through digital post-production, an atmosphere capable of freezing space and time in every frame.

LEGGI ANCHE:  Squid Game: Netflix citata in giudizio a causa della serie

Rather than relying on the vibrant colors of the Amalfi Coast, it strips them away to present the audience with a beauty that’s elegant and timeless. The images of Tom Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf (played by Johnny Flynn), enveloped by the splendor of the walls of an ancient inn in Atrani, set to the tune of ‘Il Cielo in una Stanza’ by Mina, evoke a profound sense of artistry. Honoring this aspect of Italy resonates deeply, stirring the heart.

Ripley, Andrew Scott
Ripley, Andrew Scott

…Allowing the silences to speak

And then there are the lights, the meticulously crafted sets, the 1960s wallpaper adorning the walls of homes from that era, and the glass ashtray that Ripley uses to strike Freddie Miles (played by Eliot Sumner). Then there’s the record player in Tom Ripley’s Roman abode, spinning Tony Renis’ ‘Quando, Quando, Quando,’ the crystal tumbler for sipping whiskey and scotch, the mingled scents of cologne and smoke clinging to jackets… This Italy is less about folklore, unlike the portrayal in ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ by Anthony Minghella, where an unlikely Fiorello sang ‘Tu vuò fà l’americano’ alongside Jude Law, and more about introspection, intensity, and romance.

Ripley‘ isn’t a series for those who want to kill time. The director’s brilliance lies in crafting just a handful – yet crucial – action scenes and oodles of suspense, all of which Andrew Scott impeccably conveys through every gesture and expression. Divided into eight episodes like circles in Dante’s Inferno, the series builds to a climax that makes us empathize with the plight of our cunning protagonist.

Thus, we find ourselves in the boat with Tom Ripley as he grapples with disposing of Dickie’s body, we feel his strain as he navigates the stairs with Freddie Miles, and we sense the tension during his encounters with the inscrutable police inspector Pietro Ravini (played by Maurizio Lombardi).

LEGGI ANCHE:  The Sandman: 10 differenze tra serie e fumetto [LISTA]

The portrayal of the characters

Special commendation is reserved for two lead actors in the series. Firstly, Andrew Scott, who, unlike his predecessors, flawlessly channels the unspoken turbulence and underlying instability of a character like Tom Ripley. With measured actions, inner conflict, and an unsettling gaze, he never falters, seldom revealing any hint of weakness. This stands in contrast to Matt Damon’s portrayal in Anthony Minghella’s ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley,’ where Damon embodies the restless and complex nature of Ripley, particularly fixated on Dickie. In the Netflix series, Ripley is depicted as more reserved, enigmatic, and nuanced.

Ripley, Maurizio Lombardi
Ripley, Maurizio Lombardi

Secondly, Maurizio Lombardi deserves recognition for his portrayal of Inspector Ravini, epitomizing the classic spirit of a 1940s mystery/noir detective through appearance, interpretation, and demeanor. Lombardi’s performance is understated yet authoritative, adding depth to the character. His dynamic with Andrew Scott’s Ripley creates a captivating ‘cat-and-mouse’ tension, underscored by charm and elegance, enduring until the final moments.

A beautiful and intellectually refined form of cinema

The blend of USA and Italy seamlessly intertwines, both in its linguistic duality—English and Italian dialogues—and in the casting choices. Dakota Fanning‘s youthful exuberance, portraying Marge Sherwood (originally played by Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1999 film), contrasts elegantly with the seasoned and compelling performance of Margherita Buy.

The allure of TV platforms lies in their ability to offer a fresh start at any moment. And Ripley’s allure lies in its ability to compel viewers to rewind, pause, and savor every detail and endless panorama. It beckons one to spin the record player, sip a glass, and indulge in Mina’s timeless melodies. A gateway to the heavens, it represents a beautiful and intellectually refined form of cinema.

Ripley, Dakota Fanning e Johnny Flynn
Ripley, Dakota Fanning e Johnny Flynn

Ripley, The Cast

  • Andrew Scott, Tom Ripley
  • Dakota Fanning, Marge Scherwood
  • Johnny Flynn, Dicie Greenleaf
  • Maurizio Lombardi, Pietro Ravini
  • Margherita Buy, Silvana Buffi
  • Eliot Sumner, Freddie Miles
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Herbert Greenleaf
  • Renato Solpietro, Carlo

Ripley, Official Trailer

What do you think?
Follow us on LaScimmiaPensa