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10th Apr 2024

Netflix viewers can’t finish Ripley due to ‘annoying’ filming decision

Ryan Price

Some have hailed the show as one of the best original series produced by the streaming company in a while, but others can’t get past the first episode.

Ripley, starring Andrew Scott and Dakota Fanning, is one of the most popular recent additions to the Netflix catalogue.

The eight-part miniseries, based on the 1955 Patricia Highsmith psychological thriller, The Talented Mr Ripley, boasts a riveting serial killer narrative and a stellar performance from one of the hottest names in TV and film at this moment in time.

Ripley follows the story of a grifter scraping by in early 1960s New York who is hired by a wealthy man to travel to Italy to try to convince his vagabond son to return home. His acceptance of the job is the first step into a complex life of deceit, fraud and murder.

The show landed on Netflix in the UK and Ireland on April 4th, and immediately received rave reviews for it’s eerie opening episode.

However, it seems many fans have disembarked after realising that one stylistic cinematography choice remains in place throughout it’s eight episodes.

In a five-star review, the Guardian said the series surpassed Matt Damon’s 1999 film version “largely thanks to Scott, who is just mesmerising.”

BBC Culture also handed Ripley a five-star rating, saying: “The great Andrew Scott brings a hum of sinister energy to the role of Tom Ripley, in a psychological thriller full of suspense from the start.”

Meanwhile, Collider said Ripley is a “near-perfect series” thanks to its “ensemble cast, stellar cinematography, and adept direction.” The publication added that the show is “easily one of the best shows Netflix has ever done.”

And, in a four-star review, Empire described the show as “a slick, stark series”, adding: “It is rare to find television this genuinely ambitious or finely tuned.”

However, as often the case, opinions of the experts vary greatly from that of the general viewer at home on their sofa.

Many were left frustrated as soon as they clicked on the ‘next episode’ feature at the end of the first episode, and realised within the first few seconds that the black and white filmography wasn’t just a feature of the opening chapter.

Writer-director Steve Zaillian opted for the old-fashioned black and white technique as a tool to tell the story, which is set in the 1960’s in both New York City and on Italy’s Amalfi coast.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 03: (L-R) Maurizio Lombardi, Andrew Scott, Dakota Fanning, Eliot Sumner and Steven Zaillian attend the Los Angeles Premiere of Netflix’s “Ripley” at The Egyptian Theatre Hollywood on April 03, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

In an interview with Variety, Zaillian revealed that he decided on the choice to make the show in black and white from the get go. “The edition of the Ripley book I had on my desk had an evocative black-and-white photograph on the cover,” he said. “As I was writing, I held that image in my mind. Black and white fits this story—and it’s gorgeous.”

Zaillian elaborated: “I also felt that this story—the one that she told, the one that I wanted to tell—was quite sinister and quite dark,” he said. “I just couldn’t imagine that taking place in a beautiful Italian setting with bright blue skies and colorful outfits and things like that.”

While the American filmmaker’s reasons for filming in black and white seem entirely reasonable, it may have cost him a certain contingency of viewers.

One person took to Twitter to express their annoyance at the retro cinematography choice.

“I didn’t last the first episode. The cinematography is so annoying,” they wrote.

Another commented: “Why on earth is Ripley filmed in black and white? Surely the only reason to not film in colour previously was technology. Totally killed it for me, the dog seems quite OK with it though.”

 “Black and white is a good way to keep the budget down but adds nothing,” another wrote.

 Others seemed to be able to overlook the stylistic choice, and were completely gripped by the actions and reactions of Tom Ripley.

Twitter user Sarah Phelps wrote: “Ok so I’ve already done two hours work and I’m having a big cuppa tea and watching the first episode of Ripley on Netflix and I;m here to tell you that it and Andrew Scott are both astonishingly beautiful and strange and deeply unsettling and you should watch it.”

If that monologue isn’t enough to convince you to press play, I don’t know what will.

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