Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley

Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr. Ripley, courtesy of Esquire.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a cult classic. This young man, played by Matt Damon has little to nothing going on in his life. He happens to meet a wealthy fellow music-lover, Mr. Greenleaf and agrees to take on a hefty task. Mr. Greenleaf asks Mr. Ripley to find his son and bring him home. Ripley travels to Italy and soon falls in love with Dickie Greenleaf, Jude Law’s, life. Dickie’s girlfriend Marge, Gwenyth Paltrow is quick to accept him. Whereas, Dickie Greenleaf remains hesitant for a period of time and tests Ripley. Ripley catches on to his game and adapts to his daily lifestyle.

As the movie progresses, Ripley becomes obsessed with Dickie Greenleaf’s life and all of the perks that go along with it. He goes out of his way to impress Dickie, mostly succeeding, but never giving up when he fails. Young Tom Ripley portrays qualities of a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Ripley and Greenleaf become best friends for a short while. Once the fantasy ends, he can’t accept it. Even though Greenleaf makes multiple attempts to cut Ripley out of his life, Ripley continues to crave his attention. Going through drastic measures to receive it. Whether it’s because Tom Ripley didn’t have the best life before coming to Italy or something inside of himself, he can’t allow Dickie Greenleaf to leave him completely. He ends up destroying relationships in the process and ultimately the friendship with Dickie.

Although Ripley poses to have control of his life, in reality he is a mess and as a result, struggles with being vulnerable. Once Greenleaf learns his secret and starts harassing him for it, Ripley becomes very touchy. He becomes self conscious having let his guard down. While still trying to remain in whatever little control that he can. Even after Greenleaf leaves the picture, Ripley refuses to retire his journey in Italy. Marge, Greenleaf’s former fiancee, becomes skeptical of Ripley altogether. So do several of Greenleaf’s former friends. Ripley keeps his composure and tells them whatever lie he has to to fend them off.

Mr. Greenleaf (Dickie’s father) goes out to Italy towards the end of the movie. Which he essentially chooses Tom Ripley over his own son. Marge becomes devastated and blames Ripley for everything. When Ripley has finally acquired enough distance from Dickie’s past, he can finally give up the act and stop lying. He also starts a relationship with Marge’s and Dickie’s good friend Peter. Whether it has to do with the way Ripley holds himself in such a high regard or he feels the need to hide from himself, he decides that Peter is just not enough for him. He destroys that relationship as well. The end of the movie remains unclear and you have to decide for yourself what happens.

Tom Ripley gives off a sense of relatability and is so charming, it makes you question whether he really is a bad person. His motives aren’t always bad, but he has no sense of compassion for the people around him. Ripley makes it clear that his desires are the most important and will go great lengths to get what he wants. These are just some symptoms that come with narcissistic personality disorder. Lining up the qualities and how he acts through the whole movie, you can find some common similarities.

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