Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of The Talented Mr. Ripley, and you can bet that 20 years ago today I was sitting in a dark theater becoming increasingly obsessed with a sexy serial killer named Tom Ripley, played by Matt Damon.
Since I had loved Good Will Hunting and Shakespeare in Love in previous years, having Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law in the same movie—plus Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cate Blanchett—felt too good to be true. The Talented Mr. Ripley was truly the Avengers of the Miramax Cinematic Universe.
I also had the screenplay and the soundtrack—on compact disc! If streaming services existed in the ’90s, then Damon’s “My Funny Valentine” would have absolutely been the most-played song on my 1999 Spotify Wrapped.
Patricia Highsmith, author of the Ripley book series, eventually had another one of her great works adapted into a film classic: 2015’s Carol. The Ripley series is now being adapted for the small screen, with Andrew Scott, a.k.a. Fleabag’s Hot Priest, starring as the murderous title character. (If you, like me, were alive in the ’90s, it’s safe to say your sexy sociopath of choice will always be Damon’s Tom.)
The youths these days are telling their crushes to “step on my neck,” but Tom Ripley was the original onscreen heartthrob we begged to injure us. “Hit me with an oar, dad!” I would have yelled at the big screen if this iconic franchise had been in theaters in 2019.
On that note, we’ve rounded up the five gayest scenes from The Talented Mr. Ripley, in no particular order.
Matt Damon sporting a yellow Speedo
Damon walking up on an Italian beach wearing nothing but a yellow swim brief is a “Ring of Keys” moment for sure. This bright little thing yelled “gay rights!” right in our faces. It better be hanging in some Planet Hollywood somewhere.
Rub-a-dub-dub, Jude Law in a tub
It took a naked Law to finally make chess interesting. You can cut the sexual tension between Dickie and Tom with a knife in this scene, but it isn’t until Tom makes the bold suggestion of hopping in the bath with him that Dickie thinks things have gone too far. So he steps out of the tub fully naked.
“Hit me with an oar, dad!”
Tom finally confesses his love for Dickie while the two are on a rowboat in the middle of the ocean. After Dickie calls Tom a “leech” and “boring,” Tom proceeds to pummel him with an oar and kill him. We’ve had worse Grindr dates, tbh.
Everything about Freddy
Philip Seymour Hoffman is so over-the-top as Freddie, Dickie’s bestie, that we have no choice but to stan. The Academy didn’t think so, since Law was the Ripley actor nominated for an Oscar, but Freddie’s flamboyant limp-wrist flips at least deserved a GLAAD Media Award.
At the end of the film Tom moves on to a new crush, Peter (Jack Davenport), but after Peter begins to ask too many questions about Tom’s identity, Tom wastes no time strangling him to death. We feel bad for Peter, but being strangled with a scarf in your own personal cabin on a boat is such a way to go!