Monday, November 19, 2007

Ripley's Game, by Patricia Highsmith

(pb; 1974: third novel in the Ripley series)

From the back cover:

"Connoisseur of art, harpsichord aficionado, gardener extraordinaire, and genius of the improvisational murder, the inimitable Tom Ripley finds his complacency shaken when he is scorned at a posh gala. The perpetrator: the mortally ill Jonathan Trevanny, a picture framer from a neighboring village. Now, while any ordinary psychopath might repay the insult with some mild act of retribution, the game Ripley has in mind is far subtler -- and infinitely more sinister. A social slight doesn't warrant murder, of course, just a chain of events that may lead to it."


Review:

Six months after the deaths and mishaps of Ripley Under Ground, Ripley once again is forced to commit "distasteful" murders to protect his interests -- as well as those of Jonathan Trevanny's, a squeaky-clean neighbor who's been duped, by Ripley and Reeves Minot (Ripley's partner-in-crime), into becoming a killer-for-hire.

Highsmith's writing tone is distinctive, cool, sly and filled with instances of macabre wit -- all Highsmith trademarks. Not only that, but, as with all five Ripley books, Ripley himself is changing -- where he was a panicked, lucky murderer in The Talented Mr. Ripley, and an incovenienced semi-wealthy expatriate in Ripley Under Ground, he is the cagey master of this novel's titular game, rarely breaking a sweat as he, with the help of Trevanny (who's scared, and sick with myeloid leukaemia), fends off Mafiosi.

All of the Ripley novels are excellent and memorable.

Followed by The Boy Who Followed Ripley.

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Ripley's Game has been filmed twice.

The first film, Der Amerikanische Freund, aka The American Friend, was scripted and directed by Wim Wenders in 1977. It premiered stateside on September 24, 1977; it received a limited release two days later.

Dennis Hopper played Tom Ripley. Bruno Ganz played Jonathan Zimmerman [Jonathan Trevanny's cinematic stand-in]. Lisa Kreuzer played Marianne Zimmerman [a cinematic stand-in for Simone Trevanny, Jonathan's wife?]. Gerard Blain played Raoul Minot [cinematic stand-in for Reeves Minot]. Film director Nicholas Ray played the long-dead painter Derwatt (whose character is mentioned in passing in Ripley's Game). Film director Samuel Fuller plays "The American Mobster".

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The second version, Ripley's Game - filmed in 2002 - premiered on American television on September 4, 2003. Liliana Cavani co-scripted and directed.

John Malkovich played Tom Ripley. Dougray Scott played Jonathan Trevanny. Lena Headey played Sarah Trevanny [cinematic stand-in for Simone Trevanny]. Ray Winstone played Reeves [aka, Reeves Minot in the novel].

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