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Critics say Netflix's Ripley pales in comparison to 1999 Jude Law film

Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Ripley. (Netflix)
Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Ripley, which adapts Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr Ripley. (Netflix)

Netflix's Ripley is out now, bringing the story of Patricia Highsmith's iconic novel The Talented Mr Ripley for a new generation following in the footsteps of the 1960 and 1999 films.

The TV series stars Andrew Scott as con-man Tom Ripley, who is tasked with bringing back the son of a wealthy industrialist home from his exploits in Italy. There he meets Dickie Greenleaf (Johnny Flynn) and his girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Dakota Fanning), and thus begins the tale of deception, violence and bloodshed.

While Highsmith's story is undoubtedly a classic, the Netflix adaptation received middling reviews from critics who felt that it couldn't hold a candle to what came before.

The Evening Standard's Anna van Praagh commended the film's visuals by saying: "The first thing to say about Netflix’s bold Ripley remake is that is unbelievably, extravagantly beautiful."

Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Ripley. (Netflix)
Critics were left unenthused by the series, saying that Andrew Scott is 'too old' to portray Tom Ripley in the story Netflix chose to adapt. (Netflix)

The critic added: "The series has, however, a terrible, and I’m afraid insurmountable problem. And that is that the 1999 adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith books. The Talented Mr Ripley, was cast so expertly with world class actors at the absolute apex of their talent that the cast in this can’t help but come up short."

Read more: What we know about Andrew Scott's new Netflix drama Ripley

Similarly, The Telegraph's Anita Singh wrote that the new version of the story wasn't as effective as the 1999 film namely because of its casting: "In the Netflix version, Dickie and his girlfriend are bored and boring, listlessly played by Johnny Flynn and Dakota Fanning. This can only be Zaillian’s fault, because Flynn is a magnetic screen presence elsewhere."

The critic added that the 1999 film "was sun-drenched and gorgeous, this one is made in dispiriting black and white", meaning that while it does "look beautiful... the overall effect is deadening". Singh went on to say that viewers should treat themselves to the 1999 movie instead of the series, as both are on Netflix.

RIPLEY. (L to R) Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood and Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf in RIPLEY. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
Dakota Fanning and Johnny Flynn were described as 'bored and boring' by one critic. (Netflix)

The Independent's Adam White called the TV show's cinematography "breathtakingly" captured thanks to the use of black-and-white photography. However the issue the critic took with the series was that Scott had been cast as Ripley, as the actor "feels all wrong for this."

White wrote: "Where Highsmith envisaged Ripley as an eerily calm social climber, who is charming and naive when he’s not beating people around the head with the oar of a boat, Scott plays him as more of an overt ghoul – someone oozing sociopathic menace in the corners of fancy ballrooms."

However, White agreed with other critics that the series pales in comparison to previous iterations and said: "It’s haunted by the spirit of past adaptations, unable to wrestle free from the shackles of earlier perfection."

USA. Matt Damon and Jude Law in a scene from the (C)Paramount Pictures film: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). Plot: In late 1950s New York, a young underachiever named Tom Ripley is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the errand fails, Ripley takes extreme measures. Director:  Anthony Minghella Ref: LMK110-J10525-090224 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Matt Damon and Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley, when speaking about the Netflix TV series many critics compared it to the 1999 film to say it couldn't improve on 'perfection'. (Netflix)

The Hollywood Reporter was more positive in its critique of the series, with Daniel Fienberg writing: "The series wastes no time finding its own style and tone that distinguish it from what came before." Fienberg added that Scott is "too old for the fledgling sociopath that Tom Ripley is supposed to be" but would have suited an adaptation of Highsmith's later novels featuring the character.

The critic added: "Damon’s Ripley was wholly worthy of empathy, no matter how uncomfortable it was to see yourself in his outsider status. Scott’s Ripley is much harder to get a read on — his obsession with Dickie isn’t explicitly erotic, but other characters are much more attuned to that possibility than in previous incarnations."

RIPLEY. (L to R) Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in RIPLEY. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
One critic said the TV show is 'haunted by the spirit of past adaptations'. (Netflix)

The Wrap's Bob Strauss said the series is "aiming for masterpiece status" with its visuals, which the critic said does work, but added: "If you’re not into savouring Visconti quality sets and sidewalk espresso over eight hours, it may feel overindulgent."

Strauss commended Scott's performance as Ripley, writing: "Andrew Scott does a fine job maintaining the character’s resting paranoia, while straightforwardly detailing cunning and shape-shifting abilities that most actors would play with criminal overconfidence.

"Scott has a babyface and liquid gaze that can go perfectly blank while Ripley calculates who he should be for whoever’s coming at him. They’re vital assets for an actor in a role conceived for someone a generation younger."

Ripley is available to watch in full on Netflix now.

Watch the trailer for Ripley: