Beautifully rejacketed as part of VINTAGE LOVES FILM. Tom Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors, and the law, when an ...Show synopsisBeautifully rejacketed as part of VINTAGE LOVES FILM. Tom Ripley is struggling to stay one step ahead of his creditors, and the law, when an unexpected acquaintance offers him a free trip to Europe and a chance to start over. Ripley wants money, success and the good life and he's willing to kill for it. When his new-found happiness is threatened, his response is as swift as it is shocking. The psychopathic Ripley has been portrayed on screen by actors as diverse as John Malkovich, Alain Delon and Dennis Hopper. But in the recent stylish film adaptation of The Talented Mr Ripley Matt Damon took the title role, alongside Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.Hide synopsis
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Patricia Highsmith was a unique artist, a keen observer of character and incident, as well as a master storyteller, at least as intriguing as the best purveyors of modern thrillers that have populated our bookshelves and absorbed our film screens for decades. Her novels are more than the film adaptation of "Talented Mr Ripley", interesting and engaging though that was. Her writing deserves to be read for the pleasure of reading itself.
The Everyman edition of her works is wonderful, and contains all the major Ripley novels. It is a fine volume, and a pleasure to read and keep.
Of an earlier generation of mystery writers, Patricia Highsmith and Cornell Woolrich plunge the reader into a profoundly sinister world of obsessions. It's a measure of their success that Alfred Hitchcock adapted their novels into films: Highsmith's "Strangers on a Train" and Woolrich's story, "Rear Window."
The Talented Mr. Ripley turns on the exchanging of characters and identities, and the title character Tom Ripley's chameleon-like talent for evading legal guilt. There is a homoerotic current between Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf whom his father requested that he bring back to Europe, and it is seen in Ripley's persistent denials of that desire. The accountant Ripley also feels a nagging class envy for the rich, glamorous Gatsby-like Dickie and in fact longs to be Dickie.
While the novel is densely plotted, its pleasure derives from Highsmith's understanding of Ripley's essentially hateful, envious, misanthropic personality (his misogyny toward Dickie's Platonic friend Marge, who is seen as something of a dim bulb from Ripley's perspective, is also evident). This class resentment and malice leads to two murders.
The novel does hang on a considerable suspension of disbelief: Ripley's ability to fool the Italian police by playing a double role, but even the principals involved in the classic film noir "The Big Sleep" claimed not to understand its plot. The fascination lies here in character, and Highsmith is masterful in her creation of the talented Mr. Ripley.
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