The talented Mr Ripley
“The Talented Mr. Ripley” is a Hitchcockian and bloodbreaking study of the psychopath and his victims. In the middle of this masterpiece, which appears in the beautiful decadent sketches of Italy, a titanic encounter between Ripley, the aforementioned psychopathic protagonist and young Greenleaf, a complete daffodil.
Ripley is a characteristic poor young adult whose dominant desire is to belong to a higher – or least richer – social class. While waiting for the subjects of his not so hidden desires, he receives an offer he can not refuse: to travel to Italy to get the spoiled and hedonistic boy of a shipboumagnaat, Greenleaf Senior. He begins with a study of Junior’s biography, personality, preferences and hobbies. In a cool, detailed process, he actually accepts Greenleaf’s identity. Confession of a luxury Cunard liner in his destination, Italy, “he confesses” to a believing textile heir that he is the young Greenleaf, who travels incognito.
In this way we are introduced subtly to the two dominant themes of the anti-social personality disorder (still called “psychopathy” and “sociopathy” by many professional authorities): an overwhelming dysfunction and an even more overwhelming drive to keep up with this fear. The psychopath is an unfortunate person. He is besieged by repetitive depression, hypochondria and an overwhelming sense of alienation and drift. He is bored with his own life and becomes a disturbing and explosive envy of the happy, the mighty, the smart, the whole, the general, the attractive, the happy – in short: his contradictions. He feels discriminated and has a poor hand in the big poker game called life. He is being obsessed to correct these alleged injustices and feel perfectly justified in adopting any means he deems necessary to achieve this goal.
Ripley’s reality test is maintained throughout the movie. In other words, as he gradually merges with the purpose of his admiring emulation, young Greenleaf Ripley can always tell the difference. After killing Greenleaf in self-defense, he took his name, carried his clothes, paid his checks and made calls from his rooms. But he also kills – or trying to murder – those who suspect the truth. These acts of lethal self-preservation prove sufficient that he knows who he is and that he fully realizes that his deeds are unlawfully illegal.
Young Greenleaf is young, energetically energetic, infinite charming, breathtakingly attractive and deceptively emotional. He does not have real talents – he knows how to play only six jazz songs. He can not make his musical thoughts between his faithful sax and a newly-liked drummer, and an aspiring writer can not even spell. These shortcomings and differences are under the glimmering facade of non-chalance, refreshing spontaneity, an experimental spirit, indiscriminate sexuality and unlimited adventure. But Greenleaf Jr. is a garden specialist narcissist. He cheated on his sweet and loving girlfriend, Marge. He refuses to borrow money – which he apparently has unlimited stock, with permission, is ever more disillusioned father – to a girl he has fertilized. She commits suicide and blames the primacy of emergency services, smashes and kicks his precious record player. In the midst of this infantile mood tantrum, the principles of conscience are visible. He apparently felt guilty. At least for a while.
Greenleaf Jr. fall in and out of love and friendship in a predictable hanging rhythm. He optimizes his beaus and then devalues them. He finds them the one moment of fascination – and the distilled being of boredom. And he is not ashamed to express his aversion and disillusionment. He is cruel cruelty as he calls Ripley a leak that took over his life and his possessions. He invited him earlier to do so without question. He said he was relieved to see him, and he canceled incomplete comprehensive plans they had made. Greenleaf Jr maintains a poor record of promises and a rich report of violence, as we discover by the end of this exciting, tight yarn.
Ripley has an identity. He is a binary machine driven by a set of two instructions – become someone and resistance. He feels like a nobody and his dominant ambition is to be somebody, even if he despises or steals it. His only talent, he admits openly, is to expel both personalities and papers. He is a predator and he hunt for congruence, cohesion and meaning. He is constantly looking for a family. Greenleaf Jr., he declares festively, is the older brother he never had. Along with the long-suffering fiancé to wait, Marge, they are a family. Did not Greenleaf Sr actually accept him?
This identity disorder, which is in the psychodynamic root of both pathological narcissism and rapid psychopathy, is all-encompassing. Both Ripley and Greenleaf Jr are not sure who they are. Ripley wants to be Greenleaf Jr. – not because of the latter’s admirable personality, but because of his money. Greenleaf Jr grows a fake self of a jazz giant in the making and author of the Great American Novel, but he is not and he knows it bitterly. Even their sexual identity is not fully formed. Ripley is simultaneously homoerotic, autototic and heteroerotic. He has a sequence of gay lovers (although apparently only platonics). Yet he is attracted to women. He desperately falls in love with Greenleaf’s False Self and this is the revelation of the latter’s dilapidated True Self that leads to the atavist bloody scene in the boat.
But Ripley is another – and more ominous animal – completely. He falls over the metaphorical dark room of his secrets, the key he wants to share with a “loved one”. But this act of part (which never happens) is intended only to alleviate the constant pressure of the struggle he has suffered by the police and others. He has equal chance of both loved ones and sometimes alternate acquaintances. At least twice he speaks words of love because he actually strangles his newfound inamorato and tries to hit an old and recycled flame. He does not hesitate when he is confronted with an offer to betray Greenleaf sr., His nominee employer and benefactor, and deviates with his money. He facilitates signatures with ease, makes eye contact convincing, flicker the most heartbreaking smile when it is embarrassed or threatened. He is a caricature of American dream: ambitious, driven, overwhelming, well-known in the bourgeoisie’s mantras. But under this thin veneer of hard-scholarly, self-conscious and awkward courtesy, a prey swallows the DSM IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) the best feature:
“Failure to comply with social norms regarding legal behavior, deceptiveness like indicated by repeated lies, using aliases, or other for personal benefit or pleasure, impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead … reckless negligence for the safety of self or other (and above all) lack of repentance. ” the criteria of the antisocial personality disorder).
But perhaps the most intriguing portraits are those of the victims. Marge insists, in the face of the most indifferent and insulting action, that there is something “soft” in Greenleaf Jr. When she confronted the disturbing monster, Ripley, she met the fate of all the victims of psychopaths: disbelief, pity and mockery. The truth is too terrible to consider, let alone understand. Psychopaths are inhuman in the most profound sense of this compound word. Their emotions and conscience have been amputated and replaced by phantomimitations. But it is rare to pierce their carefully manufactured façade. They have more often than not great success and social acceptance, while their opponents are shifted to the societies of society. Both Meredith and Peter, who had the accident to fall into the deep, unrelenting love with Ripley, are being punished. One door to lose his life, the other losing Ripley time and time again, mysteriously, cruel, cruel.
So, finally, the film is a complicated study of the pernicious ways of psychopathology. Mental disorder is a poison that is not restricted to its source. It spreads and influences its environment in a host of indifferent subtle shapes. It is a hidra and grows one hundred heads where one has been cut off. The victims of their victims and abuse are stacked on trauma – they turn to stone, stupid witnesses of abomination, stalactites and stalagites of pain inexplicably and unrecognizable. Because their perpetrators are often as talented as Mr. Ripley is and they are as helpless and impeccable as his victims.