The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Literary Elements

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Literary Elements


Anthony Minghella

Leading Actors/Actresses

Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gywneth Paltrow

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Cate Blanchett, Jack Davenport


Thriller, Drama, Crime Fiction




2000 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jude Law); 2000 Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced; 2000 Golden Globes for 'Best Motion Picture - Drama' and 'Best Director - Motion Picture'

Date of Release

December 25, 1999


Sydney Pollack, William Horberg

Setting and Context

Set during the 1950s in the USA and Italy

Narrator and Point of View

The film is narrated by the protagonist Tom Ridley, who narrates in the first person.

Tone and Mood

The main mood at the beginning of the film is joy and optimism. This then shifts to a more ominous, threatening tone which continues until the end.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Tom Ridley, and the antagonist is Freddie Miles.

Major Conflict

The major conflict occurs when Tom kills Dickie, and then covers up his death by impersonating him. This leads to more conflicts, such as characters threatening to expose Tom and find Dickie's murderer.


The climax occurs when Tom kills Peter. This ensures that no one will reveal that he killed Dickie. It also marks the beginning of Tom's descent into madness.


The scene where Tom tries on Dickie's clothing foreshadows his decision to "become" Dickie. The film also subtly and cleverly foreshadows the murders by providing numerous hints to Tom's true personality, such as his dismissive reaction to the drowned woman.
Another brilliant moment of foreshadowing occurs towards the start of the film, when Tom, Dickie and Marge are out sailing and the boys are pretending to fight in the water. Marge jokes "Why is it when men play they always play at killing each other?". This foreshadows when Tom actually kills Dickie during a later sailing trip.


When Dickie confronts Tom, he uses a number of understatements. For example, he calls Tom "a leach". In reality, Tom is much more than just a leach, as he adopts and essentially steals Dickie's entire life. Many of the points Dickie raises to Tom are truthful, but do not capture the full extent of his violent personality.

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques

'The talented Mr Ripley' is innovative in that the soundtrack is not merely background music to provide a backdrop for the scene. Rather, the jazz music score plays a large role in the plot as it represents Tom's transition and enables Tom and Dickie to become close.


The film is filled with religious allusions. For example, the religious festival in Italy is rich with symbolism, such as the crucifix and water, representing baptism and the repentance of sins. Tom's apartment is also filled with a number of Christian relics.


There is a strong paradoxical relationship between Tom and Dickie. While Tom claims to love Dickie, saying "You're the brother I never had. I'm the brother you never had. I would do anything for you, Dickie", he then turns on him moments later and murders him. Similarly, while it appears that Tom has developed strong feelings for Peter, he then tragically murders him too.


There is a deliberate parallel between Tom and Dickie. At the start of the film, the two could not be more different - while Dickie is excessively wealthy, Tom is poor; Dickie is attractive while Tom is self-conscious about his looks; and Dickie's confidence is a stark contrast to Tom's social awkwardness. However, by the end of the film Tom aims to bridge this gap, as he essentially becomes Dickie and adopts his privileges.

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