Netflix & Chills: A Tangled Web of Lies with Steven Zaillian Remake “Ripley”

Synopsis: Directed and written by Steven Zaillian, “Ripley” takes viewers back to a bygone era where scams are just a typewriter away. Tom Ripley, a master of deception, seizes the opportunity when hired by Mr. Greenleaf to retrieve his son Dickie from Italy. Dickie, throwing his trust fund away on an endless vacation, becomes the unsuspecting pawn in Ripley’s insidious plan to assume his identity.

Review: An elegant display of black-and-white noir-shot scenes in 1960s Italy creates the perfect landscape for the mysteriously calculated Mr. Ripley to unleash his biggest con yet. While viewers may recall seeing 1999’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley” starring Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow, this Netflix limited series, taking more cues from the original novel by Patricia Highsmith, feels like when Christopher Nolan flipped the cliché tale of Batman on its head, creating something dark, cinematic, and original.

Ripley, portrayed by Andrew Scott, could prove to be his most significant breakthrough role to date, departing from the glamorized approach of the previous rendition. Instead, he presents viewers with a more sinisterly subtle version of Ripley, leading the audience to believe he could evade any situation, including murder, by nonchalantly blending in with his surroundings. He conceals his manipulative brilliance behind a coy, laid-back “I’m just a clingy friend” demeanor.

This adds to the series’ discomfort in the best possible way. For instance, as Ripley and Dickie’s friendship deepens, viewers almost forget about the insidious plan at play. However, those moments where viewers are alone with Ripley, witnessing his impersonation of Dickie as he prepares to take over his life, truly highlight the cringe factor.

The real shock comes when Dickie accidentally discovers Ripley’s chameleon-like behavior, pulling the audience out of Ripley’s isolated world of deception and into the harsh reality of a deeply disturbed individual.

Unlike the original 90s film, Dakota Fanning, who plays Dickie’s girlfriend Marge in this current series, seems to be not swept away by Ripley’s charm. Instead, she has suspicions right from the start.

Since Dickie, played seamlessly by Johnny Flynn is a very privileged young man who can afford to stroll through life aimlessly, she is protective of him being used, which the audience can find more realistic than Gwyneth Paltrow’s portrayal. In the original film, Paltrow’s character seemed more enamored with Tom Ripley from the start.

Photos courtesy of Netflix Originals

However, this version of Ripley does not exude a twinkly eyed movie star energy; rather, he possesses a low-key “who, me?” personality and Marge is weary of his quietly clingy demeanor towards her boyfriend.Adding to the quality cast is Eliot Sumner, portraying a well-off friend of Dickie, who delivers a rockstar performance that adds an extra layer of suspicion to the mix. With a sneakily grinning mischievous demeanor, Sumner’s character becomes the perfect foil to Dickie’s puzzle piece of a plan.

The series wouldn’t be half as compelling without the lush cinematography of Robert Elswit, known for his work in “There Will Be Blood,” “Magnolia,” “Nightcrawler,” and more. Elswit’s avant-garde shots seamlessly enhance the storyline, transforming the Italian backdrop into a character itself, blending harmoniously with Ripley’s tense moments to craft a gripping and atmospheric narrative.

Though this series is a slow-burn, audiences will find themselves engrossed in every detail. It’s almost like witnessing a dark fantasy come to life, observing someone weave an intricate web of deception, stealing insane amounts of money, and journeying to luxurious hotels and apartments. Viewers almost root for Ripley to evade capture, eager to discover his next thrilling destination.

This may seem like Ripley’s just a soulless version of 007, but while he’s far from a hero and lacks any redeeming qualities, the character study is utterly captivating. One can’t help but be fascinated by how this man manages to pull off his elaborate schemes, seemingly without any guilt whatsoever.”

Now, let’s talk about why this series ended up in the DTLA horror column in the first place: murder! Get ready for some seriously disturbing moments as viewers will watch not just a con man stealing from the rich, but a man who doubles as a cold-blooded serial killer, And as for the weapon of choice? Let’s just say those victims have some serious dings on their heads.

Though the killings are kept to a minimum, watching the deaths unfold, one can’t help but wince in pain as each moment drags out, leaving the audience gasping for air, feeling like they’re experiencing it firsthand.

Because this series isn’t filled with obvious scares, but rather a constant nerve-wracking whirlwind, it earns a 6/10 on the scare-o-meter. However, as a solid, captivating series, it’s a 9/10 for its thrilling and chilling ride.

Author: Alex Livingston

Hi I'm Alex Livingston a singer/songwriter in a band for 10 years so it's no surprise I love creative writing and Im excited to be exploring this passion further through journalism. I'm big on watching movies especially horror films and every time I go somewhere new I'm mainly thinking about what kind of food will be there ;)