The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith

"Patricia Highsmith's novels are peerlessly disturing . . . bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night, with the sense that an awful possibility has been articulated only to be left unresolved." --The New Yorker

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  • About the Book

    "[Highsmith] has created a world of her own--a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger." --Graham Greene

    In a chilling literary hall of mirrors, Patricia Highsmith introduces Tom Ripley. Like a hero in a latter-day Henry James novel, is sent to Italy with a commission to coax a prodigal young American back to his wealthy father. But Ripley finds himself very fond of Dickie Greenleaf. He wants to be like him--exactly like him. Suave, agreeable, and utterly amoral, Ripley stops at nothing--certainly not only one murder--to accomplish his goal. Turning the mystery form inside out, Highsmith shows the terrifying abilities afforded to a man unhindered by the concept of evil.

    About the Author

    "One of our greatest modernist writers." --Gore Vidal

    Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in New York. She was educated at the Julia Richmond Highschool in Manhattan and then at Columbia University, where she earned her B.A. in 1942. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train (1950), tells the story of a tennis player and a psychotic who meet on a train and agree to swap murders. The terrifying tale caught the attention of director Alfred Hitchcock, who, with Raymond Chandler, filmed it in 1951. Both the book and the resulting movie are considered to be classics of the crime genre. Highsmith's subsequent novels, particularly five featuring the dashing forger/murderer Tom Ripley, have been vastly popular and critically acclaimed. In 1957 Highsmith won the coveted French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere and in 1964 was awarded the Silver Dagger by the British Crime Writers Association. As a reclusive person, Highsmith spent much of her life alone. She moved permanently to Europe in 1963 and spent her final years in an isolated house near Locarno on the Swiss-Italian border. Upon her death, Highsmith left three million dollars of her estate to Yaddo, the artist community in upstate New York.

    About the Film

    To be young and carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s; that's la dolce vita Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) craves -- and Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) leads. When Dickie's father, a wealthy ship builder, asks Tom to bring his errant playboy son back home to America, Dickie and his beautiful expatriate girlfriend, Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow), never suspect the dangerous extremes to which Ripley will go to make their lifestyle his own. After all, it's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.

    Paramount Pictures and Miramax Films present "The Talented Mr. Ripley" from Academy Award®-winning director Anthony Minghella, starring Matt Damon as Tom Ripley, Gwyneth Paltrow as Marge Sherwood, Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf and Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue. Minghella directs from a screenplay he wrote based on Patricia Highsmith's acclaimed suspense novel. William Horberg and Tom Sternberg are the producers of the Mirage Enterprises and Timnick Films production. Sydney Pollack is executive producer. The line producer is Alessandro Von Normann. Paul Zaentz co-produces. Paramount Pictures is part of the entertainment operations of Viacom Inc.

    "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is Minghella's first motion picture since Miramax Films' highly acclaimed "The English Patient" which won the Academy Award as Best Picture and for which Minghella won the Oscar® as Best Director. Rejoining Minghella from "The English Patient" are Walter Murch A.C.E., film editor; John Seale A.C.S, A.S.C., director of photography; Ann Roth, costume designer; and composer Gabriel Yared, all of whom earned Academy Awards for their work on that film. Also on the production team from "The English Patient" is costume designer Gary Jones. Collaborating with Minghella for the first time is production designer Roy Walker, who earned an Oscar as art director on "Barry Lyndon," and Set Decorator Bruno Cesari, Academy Award winner for "The Last Emperor."

    Other cast members featured in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" are British actor Jack Davenport ("The Wisdom of Crocodiles," TV's "This Life I and II"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Boogie Nights," "Patch Adams"), James Rebhorn ("Snow Falling on Cedars," "The Game"), Philip Baker Hall ("The Truman Show," "Hard Eight"), Celia Weston ("Dead Man Walking"), and four prominent Italians: Sergio Rubini (Fellini's "Intervista," "L'Alberro delle pere"), Ivano Marescotti ("Il cielo Ź sempre piĚ blu"), Stefania Rocca ("Nirvana") and singer/performer Rosario Fiorello ("Anastasia").

    Anthony Minghella says that after reading Patricia Highsmith's book, the first in her series of "Ripley" novels, he found himself personally connected to the material. The story of a young man who feels like a complete outsider and longs to exchange his identity for someone else's excited Minghella's imagination. He believed there was potential in it for a wonderful film.

    "The idea of somebody wanting to change his identity for someone else's--it's the novel's core notion," he says. "Wanting to give yourself up to become someone else stems from some inner discontent, some self-dissatisfaction, even self-loathing. It's basic to human nature.

    "Most of us, I think, are disappointed with ourselves at some point, feel inferior in some way, at the edge of things and wish we were someone else. It's something we can all empathize with, and it's what really fascinated me with the story. Certainly as an immigrant son who didn't feel I entirely belonged to the culture I was living in growing up in England, I often wanted to exchange myself for someone else."

    "The Talented Mr. Ripley" first takes Tom Ripley to Italy as an emissary for the rich playboy's father. Then, as the killings occur and Ripley's lies and crimes mount, the story follows him as he darts all across the country trying to stay one step ahead of the police – and anyone else who might expose him.

    For all its suspense, however, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is no ordinary thriller.

    "The landscape is an important part of the story," says producer William Horberg. "The canvas in the film is the Italy of the late 1950s – its music, the high style of the Via Veneto in Rome, the clothes, the cars, the motor scooters, the atmosphere of rich Americans abroad, even the great movies of the period by Fellini, Antonioni and Visconti," he explains.

    According to producer Tom Sternberg, "'The Talented Mr. Ripley' is a romantic movie, not a film noir, shot in romantic colors. And the Italian location is part of its romantic style."

    The film was shot all across the country in nine different locations, stretching from Venice, Tuscany and Rome, to Naples and the islands of Ischia and Procida in the Gulf of Naples, and Palermo in Sicily to the south. Filming also took place on location in New York City.

    The imaginative use of music--classical and jazz--are also key to revealing character, background and the period in "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

    "The film is full of music and the idea of improvisation is crucial," Horberg says. "Ripley's real talent is to improvise his way through life, on his own mysterious search for love and identity."

    The astonishing attention Minghella has lavished on period details also embellishes the film's romantic palette, adding another layer to the story, illuminating the drama, bringing it brilliantly to life.

     

     


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