Coincidence and counterfactuality: The multiple plot structure of the Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Terence Patrick Murphy, Kelly S. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this essay, we explore the multiple plot structure in Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). In contrast with thematic analysis, our concern is with plot structure, specifically the manner in which the Meredith Logue and Peter Smith-Kingsley plotlines intersect with the main plot of Tom Ripley's attempts to get away with murder. Absent from Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) and René Clément's cinematic adaptation Plein Soleil (1960), the Meredith plot operates to heighten the significance of coincidence, while engendering new forms of suspense. In contrast, Peter temporarily opens the chance for an alternative future, one in which Tom might realize his social aspirations and a more authentic identity. Ultimately, it is the coincidental resurfacing of the Meredith plot that foils Tom's attempt to escape his past, ensuring his own tragic defeat and a future of dwelling in counterfactuality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFilm Criticism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Allegheny College. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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