In 2019, The Ringer dove deep into the world of “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” analyzing both the novel and the film in a long piece celebrating the 20th anniversary of the film’s release. In the article, writer Haley Mlotek points out that the Tom Ripley readers encounter in the novel is different from the Tom Ripley viewers encounter when he appears in the film. In the novel, writes Mlotek, Tom is “already a petty criminal” with a history of swindling and swindling. Namely, he often poses as an employee of the Internal Revenue Services and calls freelancers to tell them that they have underpaid their taxes, after which he asks them to send the “taxes” due directly to him.
Yet in the film, Tom didn’t quite step into the world of crime and manipulation. As Mlotek wrote, “He simply replaces a friend at the piano as accompanist, wearing a borrowed Princeton jacket before racing to do his shift as a toilet attendant in a lavish performance space. When the audience leaves and before until the janitor catches him, he plays the piano on stage, indulging in his fantasy of being watched.”
Tom has his work cut out for him to become the kind of person who can take over the life of someone he’s just murdered. Rather, he simply starts out as the type of person who can pretend to be a different version of himself – someone who went to Princeton and was friends with Dickie Greenleaf. This way, viewers can watch Tom become obsessed with Dickie and then continue pretending to be Dickie.