Tom Ripley, as characterised by Patricia Highsmith, is a psychopath and is devoid of any conscious. The role was first portrayed on the big screen by French actor Alain Delon in the French-Italian film ‘Purple Noon’ (1960). British filmmaker Anthony Minghella brought his version of the character on the big screen, titled ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1999). A psychological thriller set in late 1950s New York, the film follows Tom Ripley, Matt Damon, a young underachiever who is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, essayed by Jude Law, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the task fails, Ripley takes extreme measures. The film is built upon the character of Ripley and delves deep into his sociopathic tendencies.
For this article, I have taken into account films that are led by psychopathic characters and are thematically similar to this wild classic. Here’s the list of best movies similar to ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Based on English director James Dearden’s short film ‘Diversion’ (1980), ‘Fatal Attraction’ follows Dan Gallagher, essayed by Michael Douglas, a married man who has a weekend affair with a co-worker named Alexandra “Alex” Forrest, portrayed by Glenn Close. However, things start turning problematic when she refuses to allow the affair to end and becomes obsessed with him, going to extreme lengths to fulfill her desire.
The highest grossing film of 1987, ‘Fatal Attraction’ is built upon an engaging premise which is expanded by Dearden’s screenplay with dexterity. Director Adrian Lyne brings forth an engaging narrative and develops upon the screenplay with patience and thus executes a thrilling story. In addition, Michael Douglas shines as the flawed but victimised man while Glenn Close completely steals the show with her portrayal of the psychotic woman. A subject of heated feminist debate, ‘Fatal Attraction’ is a good example of what might happen if one treads a foot wrong and tries to commit infidelity. The film went to bag a couple of nominations, including six Academy Award nominations, four Golden Globe nominations and three BAFTA nominations, winning one for Best Editing.
9. Donnie Darko (2001)
Directed by American filmmaker Richard Kelly, ‘Donnie Darko’ is about the titular character’s troubled visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes. The film applies disturbing imagery and takes inspiration from veteran director David Lynch’s cinematography techniques. The narrative of the film develops through Donnie Darko’s fluctuating mind. ‘Donnie Darko’, since its release, has gained a cult following both critically and commercially. Among its gallon of awards, Richard Kelly won the “Best Screenplay” at the San Diego Film Critics Society and the “Grand Jury Prize” at the Sundance Film Festival, to name a few.
8. Gone Girl (2014)
Adapted from ‘Gone Girl’, published in 2012 and written by Gillian Flynn, this David Fincher directed psychological thriller stars Nick Dunne, essayed by Ben Affleck, who after learning about his wife’s disappearance, Amy Elliott Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike, experiences extreme media trials when he is put under the suspect list. While the film comments upon the biased media trials, it should mainly be watched for Rosamund Pike, as she showcases a sociopath with astonishing dexterity and brilliance. Amy Dunne’s character develops slowly and steadily. In addition, like an archetypal Fincher film, none of the characters are “clean”, yet Amy Dunne stands out with her villainy. Pike, for her engaging performance, went on to bag nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, to name a few.
7. American Psycho (2000)
A film often misinterpreted for its eye-boggling violence, sexual themes and disturbing sequences; ‘American Psycho’ employs a variety of allusions, themes and motifs to sketch out the story of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy New York investment banking executive, who has an alternate dark side hidden from all – a side indulging in murder, torture and hedonistic fantasies.
The Bret Easton Ellis novel adapted flick stars Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe and Jared Leto as the primary leads. The film uses Bateman and his experiences to showcase the director’s ideas. His sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies rise from extreme narcissism, materialism and hedonism. His materialistic tendencies then subvert into sadomasochism, tortures and murder. Debuting in the Sundance Film Festival, the film received polarising reviews due to its unabashed violence. However, Bale earned immense accolade for his twisted portrayal, making the role his career’s turning point. The film received massive praise from critics for its thematic ambitions.
6. Seven (1995)
There are few films which manage to garner critical praise for its atmospheric darkness, and ‘Seven’ or ‘Se7en’ seamlessly garnered immense praise for darkness, brutality and themes. What makes this 1995 David Fincher film such a menacing watch is its dark undertones. Employing Christian and religious themes, the movie traces the two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, who in the pursuit of catching a serial killer come across the killer’s shrewd and depressing references of the seven deadly sins. Kevin Spacey, who essays the heinous killer, showcases psychotic and sociopathic tendencies when he speaks to the detectives. His only aim is to complete the cycle of seven sins, and remains unaffected by suffering or sadness. ‘Seven’ is a masterful merger of the detectives’ thriller hunt for the killer, and the horrifying undertones of religious dogmas. Film critic Roger Ebert famously said, “None of Fincher’s films is darker than this one.”
5. Monster (2003)
A biographical crime drama, ‘Monster’ stars Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos, the infamous serial killer and a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Written and directed by American filmmaker Patty Jenkins, ‘Monster’ showcases Theron’s monstrous talent, as she oozes with pure unabashed brilliance. The film is also written and directed with maturity by Jenkins, who deftly handles the psychological disorders, i.e. antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. A critical darling and a commercial success, ‘Monster’ went on to bag couple of nominations, with Theron receiving almost all the accolades from the Academy Awards to the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards for her career-best performance. In addition, film critic Roger Ebert named ‘Monster’ as one of the best films of the decade in his list of “The Best Films of the Decade.”
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4. Misery (1990)
Stephen King is a pioneer of scary thrillers and ‘Misery’ is just one of the many examples of his masterful grasp in freezing the spine with psychological adroitness. Directed by Rob Reiner, this 1990 film is about a famous author, who after being rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, gradually comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse of an obsessive fan. With a stunning performance by Kathy Bates as psychotic Annie Wilkes, the film is a nightmare to watch. It completely bases itself on two aspects – the acting and the screenplay.
William Goldman, the screenwriter of the film, dexterously moulded King’s novel and portrayed it as a “chess game” between the artist and the fan, as complemented by the director. Elevating the solid screenplay is the aforementioned performance by Bates who transformed her sweet demeanour into complete lunacy with very little effort. Annie Wilkes, while merely being psychopathic, is deeply disturbed within the mind. She showcases signs of depression, paranoia and bipolar disorder, resulting in her obsession with a literary character. One of King’s favourite adaptations, the film went on to revive accolades at every level, and Bates’ brilliant performances won her the “Best Actress” awards at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
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3. Cape Fear (1991)
Directed by the brilliant Martin Scorsese, ‘Cape Fear’ is a psychological thriller which centres around a convicted rapist, Max Cady, essayed by Robert De Niro, who by using his newfound knowledge of the law and its numerous loopholes, plots to seek vengeance against a former public defender, Sam Bowden, essayed by Nick Nolte, whom he blames for his 14-year imprisonment as Bowden, appalled by Cady’s crime, purposefully buried evidence that would have led to Cady’s release. With Scorsese at the helm and Robert De Niro leading the performance, ‘Cape Fear’ is an engaging seat-clenching thriller. A remake of British filmmaker J. Lee Thompson’s film of the same name, released in 1962, ‘Cape Fear’ was met with critical and commercial success. Though the film or the director did not receive much recognition at the award ceremonies, Robert De Niro bagged multiple nominations for his performance as the vengeance-seeking psychotic killer Max Cady.
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2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Directed by Jonathan Demme, this film traces the story of a young F.B.I. cadet, Clarice Starling, who is obligated to receive the help of a blemished and precariously manipulative cannibal killer, Dr Hannibal Lector, to catch a serial killer, Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb, a madman who skins his victims as his trophy. What makes ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ such a gripping watch is the way it explores multiple themes and concepts while scrutinizing the plot with the perfect measure.
The crew’s efforts earned the film quite many achievements. The film is a brilliant character study of two criminals who don’t even command a major screen time. Whether it is the calm and sinister Lecter or it is the loud and brazen Buffalo Bill, both showcase the different sides of the criminal mind. The film became the first and only horror film to win the “Best Picture” Oscar and was the third to win awards in all the top five categories – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Adapted Screenplay.
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1. Psycho (1960)
A pioneer of infusing horror with thriller, Alfred Hitchcock revolutionised cinema with his 1960 psychological horror film ‘Psycho’. When this movie released in the theatres, critics and audience were shocked by the film’s inventive concept, music and cinematography. Setting a new tone for violence, reclusive behaviour and sexuality in American films; ‘Psycho’ tells the story about Marion Crane, a real estate secretary, who upon absconding from her boss after embezzling money, comes across a remote motel run by a cloistered young man. Things seem fine until the man’s obsessive mother turns up to ruin her life. The narrative delves deep into the conflicted mind of Norman Bates and explores his trauma which led to the dissociative identity disorder and the further killings. With a cunningly chilling performance by Anthony Perkins, who brings an unsettling nuance to motel owner Norman Bates, the film comfortably establishes its primary objective on the shoulders of the newbie.
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