The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film)

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Film) Quotes and Analysis

I always thought it would be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.

Tom Ripley

This quote introduces important notions of class and identity. In the final scene of the movie, Tom berates himself for his low social standing, and outlines to Peter how he only wished he could assume a life of wealth and culture. Tom's tenuous relationship to identity stems from his belief that it was better to appear wealthy even if one was not, than to live authentically as someone from the lower classes. As Tom's sins stack up against him, when he returns to the cabin he shares with Peter on the boat, he tries to justify for himself how he got into this mess in the first place. The quote shows Tom coming to terms with the fact that he went to extreme measures to become a "somebody," including destroying his true self and hijacking the life of somebody else. This quote raises ideas regarding falsity and forgery that are central to Tom's character. His sorrowful, regretful tone also indicate Tom's inner turmoil and agitated mindset.

Well, whatever you do, however terrible, however hurtful, it all makes sense, doesn't it? In your head. You never meet anybody that thinks they're a bad person.

Tom Ripley

This quote emphasizes the subjective nature of moral judgments, as it argues that people will always find ways to justify their faults and weaknesses. When Peter tells Tom that he cannot imagine how murderers must continue to enjoy their days and justify their own happiness, Tom suggests that nobody thinks they have behaved wrongly. While Tom speaks to Peter as though he is talking about other people, he is really talking about himself.

The quote suggests that Tom lacks remorse for his actions. It is an indirect plea for forgiveness from the audience, as Tom assures us everyone has a reason for behaving the way they behave. While Tom acknowledges that murder can be interpreted as "terrible" and "hurtful," he distances himself from these allegations by claiming that what he did essentially "makes sense." The insistence that even violent acts can "make sense" illustrates the extent to which Tom has descended into madness and lost control of reality, as his moral compass is extremely questionable. The quote is indicative of Tom's moral ambiguity throughout the film, and the viewer is left to decide for themselves whether or not Tom's murders were justified.

I'm going to be stuck in the basement, aren't I, terrible, and alone, and dark. I've lied about who I am, and where I am, and now no-one will ever find me.

Tom Ripley

In this quote, Tom emotionally confesses to his crimes, however obliquely. Knowing that he must kill Peter in order to avoid risking the chaos that will result from Peter and Meredith meeting, Tom is heartbroken. While he thought that he might be able to invite Peter into his life, to give him a "key," and to show him the pain of his past, the consequences of his actions haunt him, and he realizes he will have to kill Peter, and continue on alone.

This quote reveals Tom's interior life for first time in the film, and indicates that he lives in a state of constant fear, regret and self-loathing. The basement metaphor represents how he is confined and trapped by his past. The melancholic tone of his speech, its hopelessness, prompts the viewer to empathize with Tom, as he laments his isolation from society and from his own sanity.

Who are you? Huh? Some third class mooch? Who are you? Who are you to say anything to me?

Dickie Greenleaf

Dickie yells this at Tom after Tom confronts him in the motorboat about his cavalier and unthinking attitude towards Marge and Silvana, and towards his life in general. Dickie is incensed at having been called out, and bites back, aiming for Tom's greatest vulnerability, his lower class background. This quote illustrates Dickie's sense of entitlement and prejudice towards those in a lower class. Dickie looks down on Tom and questions his worth, in spite of having welcomed him into his home. Dickie's insult is a great betrayal, and his nastiness is only exacerbated through repetition of the rhetorical question "Who are you?"

While the superior, condescending tone emphasizes Dickie's meanness and snobbery, the audience also understands his feelings of betrayal after having been duped and hurt by Tom's false double life and mysterious withholding. The quote brings out crucial themes such as wealth, authenticity, worth, dishonesty and judgement.

The thing with Dickie... it's like the sun shines on you, and it's glorious. And then he forgets you and it's very, very cold.

Marge Sherwood

Here, Marge confesses to Tom one of Dickie's faults: that he easily forgets his close friends and companions, and moves on without a second thought. She also reflects on how Dickie's validation causes a person to feel more important and worthwhile, because Dickie is so charming. The stark contrast between warm and cold emphasizes how Dickie's erratic mindset and inconsistent self-regard negatively impacts those around him.

In using the metaphor of coldness, and professing such intimate knowledge of Dickie's ups and downs, Marge is indirectly confessing the ways that her boyfriend has caused her to feel great longing and abandonment.

And that's the irony, Marge. I loved you. You may as well know it, Marge: I loved you. I don't know...maybe it's grotesque of me to say this now, so just write it on a piece of paper or something and put it in your purse for a rainy day. 'Tom loves me.' 'Tom loves me.'

Tom Ripley

The confession of love that Tom makes to Marge sharply contrasts with the scene itself. In an effort to deflect Marge's suspicions after she finds Dickie's keys in Tom's possessions, he attempts to reroute the narrative by confessing his love for her. He does this, however, while he is backing her up to a door clutching a razor in his pocket, preparing to kill her if she does not take the bait of his confession of love. His speech is dissociated from his actions in this moment in a terrifying way.

Furthermore, the threat underlying the confession of love is evident in the text of the quote itself. In saying that "maybe it's grotesque of me to say this now," Tom highlights the ways that he is professing love with a murderous and threatening subtext. His confession has an eerie tone to it, as he calls it "grotesque" and suggests she store the confession away for the future, an enigmatic instruction.

If I could just go back... if I could rub everything out... starting with myself.

Tom Ripley

Tom says this twice in the movie. They are the first words we hear him say, in voiceover, and they establish him as a character with regrets, and a great deal of self-contempt.

Later, Tom says this line to Peter when he is breaking down in the cabin of the boat, and he feels that he must kill Peter. In this quote, Tom experiences horrible remorse, wishing he could go back in time and reverse the whole narrative. Just as he was able to rub out the face of Dickie on his passport photo, he wishes to rub out the events of the previous months. The most disturbing element of the quote is his wish to "rub out" himself, suggesting that he does not see his actions as choices (choices that he could have, or could still in the future, make differently), but as caused by some innate, flawed identity. He wishes to obliterate himself; only then will the world be redeemed.

Officially, there are no Italian homosexuals. It makes Michelangelo and Leonardo very inconvenient.

Peter Smith-Kingsley

After Inspector Verrecchia asks Tom if he is a homosexual, Peter explains to Tom that homosexuality is a criminal offense in Italy and it is completely denied. The irony, however, is that Michelangelo and Leonardo, two of Italy's greatest thinkers and artists, were confirmed homosexuals. Peter, an implied homosexual (or perhaps bisexual) himself, calls Italian culture's bluff, by showing that even though Italy disavows and punishes homosexuality, homosexuality still exists in the culture, and indeed, in two of its most celebrated heroes.

You're a quick study, aren't you? Last time you didn't know your ass from your elbow, now you're giving me directions. That's not fair, you probably do know your ass from your elbow.

Freddie Miles

Freddie Miles makes this disparaging comment to Tom when he visits what he thinks is Dickie's apartment in Rome. He observes how fancy Tom's demeanor, dress, and expertise has become. After Tom gives him directions to a restaurant where he tells Freddie he can find Dickie, Freddie mocks him and makes note of how much Tom has changed in the last month, going from feckless simpleton to refined master of the house. The subtext of Freddie's mockery is an insidious snobbery and a suspicious attitude, as he is making an accusation that Tom is nothing more than a "quick study," and therefore a poseur. Tom's ability to change so quickly, in Freddie's eyes, reveals how untrustworthy he is.

Dickie: Everybody should have one talent, what's yours?

Tom: Forging signatures, telling lies... impersonating practically anybody.

Dickie: That's three, nobody should have more than one talent.

Dickie Greenleaf and Tom Ripley

In this moment in the movie, Tom directly addresses his crimes in conversation with Dickie. Ironically enough, Tom's confession that one of his talents is "telling lies" is not a lie at all, but the bald truth. Although the men barely know each other, Tom is straightforward, and his candor is interpreted as an almost facetious joke.

Because Dickie does not take Tom's admission seriously, he rather humorously suggests that Tom listed three talents when Dickie only specified one. Rather than feel suspicious of Tom's explicit admission of guilt, Dickie is charmed by it, and jokingly chastises him for veering from the prompt.