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Ripley (2024) — Series Review

The 1999 adaptation of 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' presented an Italy filled with charismatic energy, artistic enthusiasm, and religious zest. This vivid world drew Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley into a spiral of social climbing sprinkled with blue jazz improvisation and stylish murders. Netflix has chosen a contrasting canvas for their take on Patricia Highsmith's novel, stripping the title character of his flamboyant talents, and leaving viewers with an ambitious yet desperate Tom Ripley.

Andrew Scott’s version of Tom Ripley in Netflix’s 'Ripley' is a man on the brink – a man who believes that this is his only ticket to the life he yearns for. The grim Italy surrounding him mirrors his severe and calculating tone, revealing a gray world filled with sharply defined architecture and intimidating statues. The series has a distinctive stylistic approach, stepping out of the shadows of masterpieces like Minghella's film and René Clément's 'Purple Noon'.

'Ripley' introduces viewers to a slower, methodical portrayal of the character. It’s a purposely paced descent into murky morality, held on course by Scott’s intricate central performance and some of the most stunning cinematography seen on the small screen. The series also cleverly injects humor into its dark narrative, especially post the arrival of Maurizio Lombardi as a sagacious investigator, exasperated by the antics of Americans.

The protagonist is a low-level New York City con man circa 1961, who is recruited by shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf (Kenneth Lonergan) to fetch his prodigal son, Dickie (Johnny Flynn), from the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Tom embraces the task as an escape from his crumbling scams and is soon intrigued and obsessed with Dickie’s extravagant lifestyle.

Ripley (2024) — Series Review

Unlike earlier interpretations, Andrew Scott’s Ripley, at his late 40s, is closer to the character in later Ripley adventures - growing from being ‘talented’ to nearly supernatural in his myriad gifts. The series has aged Ripley a bit, still strapping him with desperation. His obsession with Dickie might not be erotic, but it highlights his struggles and aspirations.

Netflix's 'Ripley' emphasizes the timeless charm of Italy while painting its characters as desperate beings battling their self-inflicted expiration dates. The focus isn’t on how Ripley escapes from his complicating situations, but on presenting Ripley himself unsure of his escape plans.

Scott's Ripley maintains a delicate balance between fragility and suaveness, while Flynn portrays Dickie as a man of privilege, showing no signs of actual talent. Marge, among others, is an ambiguous presence, portrayed brilliantly by Dakota Fanning. Lombardi’s arrival considerably elevates the series, weaving an irresistible tapestry of sarcasm and contempt.

Towards the end, the series takes the audience on an engrossing tour of Italy, brutal and banal yet breathtakingly beautiful. Despite being haunted by some excessive protraction, 'Ripley' commands attention with its rapturous aesthetics. It presents the promise of smart and meticulously produced literary adaptations, nearly pleading for the continuation into future installments.