The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film)

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); 1999 Academy Award Nominations for Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score

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 Ripley, 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 Ripley, while the role of antagonist is shared between characters such as Dickie, Marge, and Freddie Miles

Major Conflict

The major conflict occurs when Dickie mocks Tom and rejects him as a friend. This drives Tom to murder him in a rage, which multiplies the conflict, as Tom then covers up Dickie's death by impersonating him. This itself leads to numerous other conflicts, including other characters threatening to expose Tom and discover his crimes.


While there are several climactic moments, perhaps the most significant climax occurs when Tom kills Peter. Even though Tom thought he was finally safe, the arrival of Meredith and the potential revelation of his crime drives him to kill the person he loves most.


Several scenes foreshadow Tom's assumption of Dickie's identity, such as when he impersonates Dickie and Marge talking into the mirror, and when he tries on Dickie's clothing and dances in front of the mirror.

Additionally, Tom's bald admissions of his expertise as a forger foreshadow his eventual forgery of Dickie's signature later in the film.

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 leech." In reality, Tom is much more than just a leech, 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 disruptive and invasive personality.

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques

The soundtrack of the film is innovative in that it is not merely background music, but expertly weaves into the story telling in unexpected ways. Furthermore the film was innovative in giving the audience such a window into the actions of a murderous anti-protagonist. While most psychological thrillers had previously concerned the solving of a crime by innocent spectators, this film aligns the viewer with Ripley, the murderer at the center of it all.


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, 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. The tension between Tom's affection and his violent responses creates numerous paradoxical scenarios.


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.