Tom is an enigmatic character who is skilled at forgery and impersonations, and it is hard to pin him down. Ripley is not from a wealthy background, as he works as a lavatory attendant. Despite this, he aspires to greatness, and is impressed by Dickie Greenleaf's life of luxury. Tom is approachable and quick to form friendships with others, however, he is also prone to extreme anger. His bad temper and inability to think ahead drives the main conflict of the plot.
He longs for a wealthier station in life, but his aspirational play-acting leads him to violent and unsavory lengths. He is depicted as both confused and confusing, at once sympathetic and malevolent. Tom has an acute appreciation for music and the finer things in life, is charming and innocent on the surface, and a talented musician.
Dickie Greenleaf is a handsome, eccentric multi-millionaire. He is kind-hearted and lives an impulsive life, but can also be careless about the feelings of others. He is immediately drawn to people with a sense of humor and forms close, intense relationships with people very easily, however, he also gets bored with people quickly. For this reason, Dickie tends to ignore his friends after a few weeks, and develops new, more exciting friendships instead. Dickie is presented as a character who takes his wealth for granted. He is also disloyal to his long-term girlfriend Marge, as he often has flings with other women.
Dickie refuses to return to his family's monied life in Manhattan, favoring a rebellious path in Italy, doing what he pleases, spending his allowance, and going to jazz clubs. He wants to escape the pressures and confinements of his parents' lifestyle. In Italy, he is anonymous and able to pursue his pleasures without judgment or confinement, un-pressured to marry or take up an occupation.
Marge is Dickie's girlfriend. She is extremely loving and patient, as she puts up with Dickie constantly arriving late to events she has planned. She is also very aware of Dickie's flaws, as she confides to Tom about his erratic, impulsive nature. Nonetheless, she is whole-heartedly devoted to Dickie and is a close friend of Tom throughout the film. While she appears naive at times, she is actually very insightful, as can be seen through her determination to find Dickie after he goes missing.
Freddie is one of Dickie's closest friends. He, like Dickie, is extremely wealthy and eccentric. Freddie jeopardizes Tom and Dickie's friendship, as he is very exclusive and constantly mocks Tom. Due to his elitist attitudes, Freddie looks down upon anyone who is not as wealthy as he is. He forbids Tom from coming on the ski trip to Cortina and is a catalyst to Dickie mistrusting Tom.
A wealthy Manhattan businessman in the shipbuilding business. He disapproves of his son’s lazy and rebellious lifestyle. He admires Tom’s classical musicianship, but bemoans his son’s appreciation of jazz and his careless spending. As a member of the New York elite, Greenleaf is used to getting what he wants and being able to purchase satisfaction, which leads him to hire Tom to convince Dickie to come back to America from Italy. When Tom protests, Mr. Greenleaf refuses to take no for an answer.
Herbert Greenleaf’s wife, a wealthy woman confined to a wheelchair by illness.
The soprano whom Tom is accompanying on the piano when he catches the Greenleafs' eye. Perhaps she is Tom’s lover, as speculated by the Greenleafs, but that remains unclear. Later Tom references her as his fiancé with Dickie and Marge.
The Greenleafs' chauffeur, who prepares Tom for his journey to Italy and acts as a knowing connector between Tom’s tawdry life and the luxurious lifestyle of the Greenleafs.
A local woman from Mongibello with whom Dickie was having an affair. She is pregnant with Dickie's child when she drowns herself during the Festival of the Madonna after seeing Dickie sailing with Marge and others.
Meredith’s aunt, who brings Tom and Meredith to the opera and is convinced she has met Dickie Greenleaf before, even though Tom is not him.
A well-mannered and wealthy friend of Marge, Dickie, and Meredith. He first meets Tom when he is accompanying Marge to the opera in Rome, and then later agrees to help Tom go to the police in Venice. The two men begin a love affair, but Tom's criminal past wreaks disastrous consequences on their affair.
The detective in charge of investigating the murder of Freddie Miles. He is suspicious of Tom, but also polite and measured in his interactions.
Tom's landlady in Rome, who believes that he is Dickie Greenleaf, and tells Freddie that she enjoys listening to Dickie play the piano, leading to the confirmation of Freddie's suspicions about Tom's deception.
The inspector who questions Tom in Venice. He is more hard-nosed than Roverini, but is still convinced by Tom's antics.
The private investigator that Mr. Greenleaf hires to follow the case. McCarron reveals the unsavory details of Dickie's past which lead him to drop the case, and which allows Tom to leave Venice without consequence.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Questions and Answers
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The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Talented Mr. Ripley by director Anthony Minghella.