Fashion Film Fun: Talented Mr. Ripley
A delicious slice of summer cool, this film is as thrilling as it is stylish. Everything about the film is draws you in: the breathtaking scenery, the gorgeous actors, the stylish costumes, that carefree lifestyle of preppy privilege, the mood-setting music, the scintillating storyline - all is on target and enthralling.
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Why do we love this film?
the plot.....This is a film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's most famous novel of the same name. A master of building tension and sinister character studies, Highsmith's work has been an inspiration for several movies of late: Two Faces of January (2014), Carol (2015), A Kind of Murder (2016). Minghella, who not only directed, but wrote the screenplay pulls it off admirably; he portrays Tom as a vulnerable and desperate character, equal parts terrifying and pathetic. The plot builds to a crescendo as Tom's obsession with Dicky and his entire lifestyle becomes all consuming.
the costumes.....Costume designers Ann Roth and Gary Jones were nominated for an Oscar for their work and it is much deserved. The clothes are an integral part of the storytelling - the very point of why this is a fashion film. Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) starts the movie in working class attire and as he begins to assume the life that he wants for himself, he also assumes the playboy wardrobe of the charasmatic Dicky Greenleaf (Jude Law). In fact, it is a piece of clothing that is pivotal to the onset of the entire story, as Tom is mistaken for a member of the blueblood elite when he borrows a friend's Princeton blazer. Dicky, on the other hand, wears his clothes with an ease that would be nearly impossible for Tom. His rumpled and casual elegance conveys the sense that he is completely comfortable in the world he inhabits with yachts, sports cars and late nights at jazz clubs. He is costumed in lightweight knit sports shirts that were so prevalent in the 50's and 60's, loose pleated linen trousers, often rolled up at the hem, and espadrills. Marge Sherwood (Gwenyth Paltrow) looks the part as an American on holiday in printed full skirts, tied at the waist button down blouses, and a preppy headband. Her easy vacation attire contrasts with the more elegant costumes of supporting character, Meredith (Cate Blanchett), who is a wealthy American heiress. Meredith's role as high-society busy body is underscored by her clothing, which is more formal, but no less fashionable; she is usually wearing embellished sweater sets, nipped suits and scarves, and a beret. The last character of note, Freddie Miles (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is Dicky's obnoxious upper class friend. He is brash and loud and snobbish, all of which comes through in his costuming. What is most important to know about Freddie, though, is he that is the one person who sees Tom as the hanger-on that he is - and eventually the danger he will become.
the mood..... The incredible scenery is one of the most memorable things about this movie. In fact, I fell so in love with the setting of this film, I traveled to the Amalfi coast myself a year after seeing the movie for the first time! The movie was filmed in Ischia (an island off the Amalfi coast), Positano, Solerno, Rome, and Naples, as well as other scenic places in Italy. It is easy to see why Dicky would choose run away from his responsibilities in New York and spend leisure time here. .
The mood of any film is so dependant on its music. In this respect, The Talented Mr. Ripley, again rises to the top. The soundtrack, which features classical works by Beethoven and Bach, jazz by Miles Davis and Chet Baker, as well as a haunting vocal performance by Sinead O'Connor, is worth a listen to on its own. It is the deft work of Gabriel Yared, who masterfully sets the moods of a lighthearted holiday, a boisterous jazz club, the culture and refinement of Italy, and then suffuses the film with dread as the climax builds. The music and scenery of this film will stay with you long after you have finished watching.
Take a look for yourself and see why this film has come up repeatedly in fashion blogs and style forums as a source of inspiration for iconic laidback resort style.
We would love to hear: what is your favorite moment in the film?