Welcome back to Flip or Flick! This edition will tackle Patricia Highsmith’s 1995 classic psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley. The narrative follows the iconic character Tom Ripley through his adventures to Italy. Ripley is off to meet the wealthy Dickie Greenleaf and his travel companion Marge Duval. Tom has been hired by Dickie’s father to convince him to come back to America to run the family business. His time in Europe suddenly takes a turn as murder, theft, and a thick web of deceit ensue. The novel is written entirely from Tom’s point of view and readers are able to see his psychological unraveling as the events go on. It is difficult not to root for Tom as all of the interactions in the story are from his lens.
I’d compare the storyline to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as both include luxurious accommodations, an unreliable narrator, and a main character with dreams of mythic proportions. I loved analyzing the twists and turns in the novel and trying to evaluate what my perception of Ripley said about my own sense of self. The 1999 film adaptation stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow. It is extremely visually appealing with gorgeous actors and a picturesque setting. There are several characters added to the film that completely change some of the story arc and ultimately the conclusion. Dickie and Tom’s motivations are characterized a bit differently but the central themes of the story remain true to the original.
So, flip or flick? FLIP!
I loved both, but the book is a classic for a reason. Highsmith’s prose gives us intimate access to Ripley’s inner monologue that is difficult to replicate in cinema. To me, Ripley’s inner thoughts are what make this narrative so special from others in the same genre. I adored the movie and I highly recommend consuming both if you have time! Watching these extremely talented actors in their prime portray complex characters is definitely a special treat. The story has been adapted in several different ways throughout the years, most recently with a new limited series adaptation starring Fleabag’s Andrew Scott coming soon to Netflix. Falvey Library has the critically acclaimed French adaptation from René Clément available to stream for free which includes breathtaking visual scenes that give new life to the story.
Anna Jankowski ’23 CLAS is a Senior Communication Major from just outside Baltimore who works as a Communication & Marketing Assistant in Falvey.