Netflix's upcoming show, based on a 69-year-old book, is set to become the streaming giant's Saltburn, but with even greater appeal - scenesing - TV - GAMING - MOVIES
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Netflix’s upcoming show, based on a 69-year-old book, is set to become the streaming giant’s Saltburn, but with even greater appeal

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Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley looks to be an even better take on the same themes explored in Saltburn, which was not a critical failure. When Saltburn’s early reviews arrived in 2023, they mentioned two major influences: Brideshead Revisited and Highsmith’s iconic psychological thriller novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Like Saltburn, The Talented Mr. Ripley mixes social satire, homoerotic subtext, and fast-paced, twisty plotting in its unpredictable story of a deceitful social climber.

While Saltburn’s characters arguably earn their fates, the movie’s troubled antihero is a deceptive, conniving killer. The same is true of Highsmith’s mercurial Ripley, a sociopath whose knack for inventive lying, improvisation, and imitation makes him uniquely lethal and fascinating. Matt Damon famously played Ripley in the 1998 film adaptation, but the role has also been taken on by Alain Delon, Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich, and Barry Pepper in other adaptations. Now, Netflix is bringing back Ripley with a fitting new star in the lead.

Ripley and Saltburn have one major source of inspiration in common

Netflix’s Ripley will feature Andrew Scott, known for his roles in Fleabag and Sherlock, as the titular character. The upcoming thriller series also stars Dakota Fanning and Johnny Flynn, offering a new take on The Talented Mr. Ripley. While the show will be a direct adaptation of the novel, Saltburn drew inspiration from Highsmith’s Ripley books. Saltburn’s twist ending mirrored that of The Talented Mr. Ripley, where the protagonist sheds his innocence and kills inconvenient survivors to fit his master plan. Netflix’s adaptation can provide a more focused and sharper interpretation of the text.

Saltburn’s attempt at social satire in the movie fell short, with the message about income inequality getting lost in the opulence and decadence. The Catton family was portrayed as rude and thoughtless, but ultimately became victims of the middle-class Oliver. Oliver’s motivations were unclear and unconvincing. In contrast, Ripley can delve into the internal psychology of its antihero, with less emphasis on gross-out scenes. Each movie version of Mr. Ripley has portrayed the character differently, providing Scott with an opportunity to offer a fresh take on the unpredictable figure.

Netflix’s Ripley is already more impressive than Saltburn

Netflix’s Ripley seems to surpass Saltburn based on the teaser. While Saltburn had its fair share of shocking moments and unexpected twists, it also had a tendency towards broad humor and over-the-top plotting that detracted from the mystery’s grip and grounding. In contrast, Ripley appears to take a more measured approach to a similar plot, allowing for greater tension and impact without indulging in the excesses of Saltburn. As a result, Netflix’s Ripley has the potential to enhance the already-solid blend of social satire and psychological mystery found in Saltburn.

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