Yes, Netflix's Ripley is in black and white (the great style choice explained)

Did you enjoy the monochrome vibe of Ripley or find it distracting? Steve Zaillian had his reasons for the stylistic choice.
RIPLEY. (L to R) Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in RIPLEY. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024
RIPLEY. (L to R) Dakota Fanning as Marge Sherwood, Johnny Flynn as Dickie Greenleaf and Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in RIPLEY. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

Ripley is the latest adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's popular 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, best known by the 1999 adaptation from director Anthony Minghella starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow. The Netflix version aims to give viewers a different interpretation of the text, one that really savors the story and fully explores the enigmatic character of Tom Ripley to the hilt.

Who better to lead the cast than the charming Irish star Andrew Scott? He's had a great run of projects with notable roles such as the priest in Fleabag and more recently his acclaimed film All of Us Strangers. Ripley creator Steve Zaillian credits Scott's work in Fleabag and a lesser known role of his from the film Locke with landing him the part of Tom Ripley in his eight-part Netflix series.

Chatting with Vanity Fair about casting Scott, Zaillian says, “He didn’t appear in [Locke]; he was a voice on the phone. But with just that, he created a thoroughly engaging character. Then, of course, there was Fleabag. With those two roles—Donal and the Priest—I knew he had the range for Tom Ripley.”

But one thing viewers might have noticed really sets this version of Ripley apart from the rest is the fact it's completely monochrome. All eight episodes of the series were shot in black and white.

Ripley. Andrew Scott as Tom Ripley in Episode 101 of RIPLEY. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

Why is Ripley filmed in black and white?

Shooting in a place as vibrant as Italy, one might expect that the creators would want to luxuriate in the bright colors and setting, but Zaillian felt the opposite, telling Vanity Fair that he always envisioned this story in black and white. In fact, he took his cue straight from the source material, having found himself inspired by a beautiful black-and-white photograph on the cover of Highsmith's book.

"As I was writing, I held that image in my mind. Black and white fits this story—and it’s gorgeous."

I think Ripley's monochrome style is a fitting choice and it doesn't make the show any less stunning to look at. I agree with Zaillian that it actually makes the series look quite beautiful. The cinematography from Robert Elswit (who worked on all eight episodes) is alluring to look at and you could grab almost any frame from the series and blow it up into a piece of wall decor. You can tell the people behind the camera reveled over every frame with a loving caress.

As for why he would want the Italian setting to be viewed in black and white versus full saturation, Zaillian revealed that the story was "quite sinister and dark," and he "couldn't imagine that taking place in a beautiful Italian setting with bright blue skies and colourful outfits and things like that."

All eight episodes of Ripley are now streaming on Netflix.

Next. Shows Not Sad Were Canceled. 5 Netflix shows we’re not sad were canceled in 2023. dark