Andrwe Scott as Tom Ripley sitting at a bar looking at the camera

Netflix’s ‘Ripley’ Is a Stunning Look Into the Talented Con Man

The book series surrounding the life and crimes of Tom Ripley has captivated audiences since its introduction. That doesn’t mean adaptations have become overdone; in fact it is rare that we get to really dive into the mind of Tom. Then came Netflix’s Ripley, and it is captivating to watch.

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Starring Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley, the series has a lot of the same beats as the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley, while cutting out questions of Tom’s sexuality almost entirely. Ripley’s main goal seems to be highlighting the beauty of an Italian setting and the debauchery that lives in Ripley’s actions against those closest to him.

Tom still goes through the same beats we know well. He goes to Italy to connect with Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) after Dickie’s father pays for Tom to get there. Already lying about his connection to Dickie to get close to him, Tom’s manipulations just take him further and further into this mess he’s created, but where the series stands apart from the previous adaptation is how Scott approaches Tom’s relationships to everyone.

They are all superficial. There is not a single relationship throughout this series that I think means anything to Tom outside of what he can gain from them. Even his relationship with Dickie is fully because he wants to take from him, and when Marge (Dakota Fanning) begins to point this out to Dickie, Tom has to figure out a way to continue using Dickie for his benefit.

The actions of Tom Ripley are contrasted by the black and white aesthetic choice of the series. Tom’s actions do not exist in the gray area of morality at all. It is black and white that he is in the wrong and everyone else is not. But it goes deeper than that.

Beautiful to look at, yet hard to come to terms with Tom’s actions

Tom and Dickie walking on a path in Ripley
(Lorenzo Sisti/Netflix)

As is the case with The Talented Mr. Ripley and the book series that inspired our fascination with the titular character, the series does not shy away from how dark Tom Ripley truly is. He is a man who is not afraid of harming others if it means keeping up this façade he’s created for himself, and Scott really plays Tom in an almost completely cold way that makes those actions even more haunting to the audience.

Even in his relationship to Dickie, you can see Tom’s wheels turning to make sure that his wellbeing and his status while in Italy are not in jeopardy. Tom Ripley is a character who cares not about people who may care about him but whether or not he’s going to be able to keep up this persona he’s put on for the world.

Maybe it is Scott’s past work as a master manipulator, like Moriarty in Sherlock, or just how he can approach a character who doesn’t have an ounce of regret, but there is something about him as Tom Ripley that just keeps its hooks in you.

After a while, Tom’s actions should feel exhausting, but you can see in Scott’s performance that he is a man desperate to find where he belongs and is going about it in a way that is horrible to anyone who crosses his path. Ripley made me want more of the adventures of this man; there are five books in total to pull from, so why not?

It is beautiful, twisted, and exactly what I wanted for another look into Tom Ripley, the most talented con man of all.

(featured image: Lorenzo Sisti/Netflix)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.