'The Talented Mr Ripley', released in 1999, is a unique and innovative psychological thriller and drama. The film was directed and written by Anthony Minghella, a screenwriter, playwright and director who composed 'The Talented Mr Ripley', 'Inspector Morse' and 'The English Patient', which led him to win an Academy Award for Best Director. The film was produced by Sydney Pollack, William Horberg, Saul Zaentz and Tom Sternberg, with an overall production budget of 40 million USD. 'The Talented Mr Ripley' has been greatly successful and achieved a number of prestigious awards, as its innovative take on the crime genre has led to it becoming a cult classic. The film has been nominated for 80 awards and recieved 10 wins, including 'Best Costume' and 'Best Original Score' in the 2000 Academy Awards, and 'Best Motion Picture' in the 2000 Golden Globes USA.
'The Talented Mr Ripley' (film) is based on the novel of the same name written by Patricia Highsmith, first published in 1955. The film perfectly captures the aspects of suspense central to the psycholical thriller. The film also keeps the 1950s setting through costuming, music and numerous shots of vintage cars and architecture. This setting is greatly significant, as it presents the post-World War period in which America emerged from the chaos and destruction of war as a prosperous, optimistic nation. This enabled individuals to purchase luxury goods on a larger scale. With this arose issues of social class division, as social stratification occured between those who lived luxuriously, and individuals struggling to purchase daily necessities. 'The Talented Mr Ripley' taps into this social issue through the unfair parallel between Dickie Greenleaf's inherited wealth and Tom Ripley's financial instability.
The film revolves around the protagonist and narrator Tom Ripley, a complicated character who is skilled in the arts of forgery, lies and manipulation. A key factor behind the success of the film lies in the ambiguities surrounding Ripley's character. Due to a variety of filmic techniques such as dialogue, close ups and over the shoulder shots, the viewer becomes dragged into Tom's spiral of confusion and anger. We are encouraged to empathise with his plight, while we are also apalled by his acts of violence and murder. In this way, the film clearly and boldly portrays Tom Ripley as an intriguing, tortured protaganist. The film also subverts the typical crime fiction mode of narrative as it what critics have called a 'reverse whodunnit'. This means that the viewer is aware that Tom Ripley is the murder, while we watch the unaware and often naive main characters try to figure out who the killer is. This provides great suspense.
The tagline "It's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody." also encapsulates notions of identity and self-worth that are central to the film. Other crucial themes include humanity, deception, flaws, violence and wealth. Hence, 'The Talented Mr Ripley' highlights a number of flaws inherent in humanity and pushes the boundaries of crime fiction to new limits.