RIPLEY Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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In the latest Netflix adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's renowned novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley," Andrew Scott emerges as the enigmatic antihero, Tom Ripley. This eight-part series draws viewers into the shadowy depths of Tom's existence, starting from his humble beginnings as a scheming small-time crook in the underbelly of New York City. As the series unfolds, Tom transitions from his bleak circumstances through a chance encounter with Dickie Greenleaf's father, who hires him to persuade his son, played by Johnny Flynn, to abandon his indulgent European lifestyle and return to the U.S.

Andrew Scott, renowned for his dynamic acting skills, brings to life the complexity of Tom Ripley with a performance that balances charm and menace. As Ripley maneuvers through the layers of deception, he deftly earns the trust of Dickie, skillfully mimicking and eventually morphing into his persona. Meanwhile, Dickie’s girlfriend, Marge, portrayed with nuanced suspicion by Dakota Fanning, observes Tom's integration into their lives with increasing doubt and concern.

The series remains faithful to Highsmith's narrative, potentially challenging even the most definitive past adaptations, such as the 1999 film, The Talented Mr Ripley, featuring Matt Damon. The storytelling is fresh, emphasizing the psychological tension and dark themes that are signature to Highsmith’s work.

Visually, the series is a feast for the eyes, shot entirely in black and white, which enhances the noir feel that is so crucial to the story's atmosphere. The production team's attention to detail is meticulous—every scene, whether it’s the reflection of Ripley in a puddle or the curl of smoke from a cigarette, is crafted to build mood and suspense. The setting in various picturesque locations around Italy adds a layer of beauty that contrasts starkly with the grim undertones of Tom's manipulative escapades.

However, it's the slow pacing that might divide viewers. The series takes its time to develop, focusing heavily on capturing the essence of Highsmith's portrayal of suspense and moral ambiguity. For those who appreciate a deep dive into character psychology and setting, this pacing will be a reward in itself, allowing for a full appreciation of the complex web of deceit that Tom weaves.

Scott's portrayal of Ripley is deliberately ambiguous, avoiding a straightforward diagnosis of his character's motives. This ambiguity adds depth, making Ripley a character with whom audiences can find varied points of connection—whether it's through empathy for his cunning, a fascination with his audacity, or horror at his capacity for manipulation. This multi-dimensional performance makes Scott's Ripley a figure of both fascination and revulsion, encapsulating the duality at the heart of Highsmith’s story.

The supporting cast also adds significant value to the series. Johnny Flynn's Dickie is not just a foil to Tom's machinations but a character with his own vulnerabilities and charms. Dakota Fanning’s Marge is a standout, portraying a woman of sharp intelligence and formidable will, observing and calculating the perfect moment to challenge Tom. Maurizio Lombardi, who appears as Inspector Ravini, adds yet another layer of tension, matching Scott's intensity in their pivotal scenes together.

Critically, while the show's monochromatic visual style and measured pace are meant to enhance the thematic depth and period feel, they may not resonate with all viewers. Some may find these choices lend a pretentious air to the series or make it a taxing watch. However, for those willing to engage deeply with the narrative and its execution, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" offers a rich, immersive experience. The series is not just a portrayal of a con man’s exploits but an exploration of identity, loneliness, and the dark corners of human desire.

In conclusion, Netflix's "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a compelling reimagining of Highsmith’s novel, distinguished by Andrew Scott’s captivating lead performance and a strong supporting cast. The series' commitment to atmospheric storytelling and psychological complexity makes it a noteworthy addition to the adaptations of Highsmith's work. While its pace and style might challenge some viewers, those who find beauty in its meticulous craftsmanship and thematic depth will likely consider it a mesmerizing watch—a true embodiment of Highsmith’s "poet of apprehension."

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