Tom is dejected when Dickie's attentions turn back to Freddie and Marge. Tom is not invited on the annual ski trip, and soon enough Dickie tells his friend that their time is up and after one last holiday together, he should return to the US as he'll be unable to keep up their lavish lifestyle without Dickie's handouts.
They hire a rowboat together, and Dickie turns on his friend - telling him that he is growing bored of Tom and will be glad when he leaves. In a fit of rage Tom grabs one of the oars and smacks Dickie across the head. Bleeding from a nasty head wound, they both fight and Tom picks up the oar to finish off his old friend. He sails back to shore and sinks the boat.
Back at the hotel, Tom is mistaken for Dickie by the Concierge. Probably because he is tired. Or thinks all Americans look the same. This gets Ripley thinking - after all it is supposed to be one of his talents.
So Ripley travels to Rome and assumes the identity of Dickie. He takes money from his account and rents a lavish apartment. Freddie hears that Dickie is in town, so drops by but grows suspicious by the lack of Dickie's stuff in his apartment. Freddie catches the landlady and asks her if she knows Dickie - and she points towards Tom.
Freddie reenters the apartment, but Tom uses the marble bust to smack him over the head ... and again to finish him off. He takes the body to Freddie's car and dumps it.
Next day Tom is quizzed by the police after Freddie's body has been found. After weeks of questionning, Tom meets up with Meredith (Cate Blanchett) again by chance - who still thinks he is Dickie after he needlessly lied on the cruise ship when they first set out for Italy. On a date at the Opera, Tom bumps into Marge and her friend Peter (Jack Davenport) and his problems start again.
When his time is almost up, and with Marge back on the scene again, Tom fakes a suicide note from Dickie, so that he'll take the rap for Freddie's murder. Marge confronts Tom about Dickie, and panics when she finds Dickie's rings in his apartment. Tom is going to murder her with a knife before Peter shows up.
Dickie's father travels to Italy with a private detective. They quiz Tom but, for some reason, decide that the past is murky enough and, especially with Dickie's love child and past crimes, that they would prefer to leave it all behind. Against Marge's wishes, they leave a portion of Dickie's inheritance to Tom and leave.
Tom is free to fall in love with Peter and they take a crusie together. Tom hangs back on their first day on board to watch the sun set ... where he hears someone calling a familiar name - "Dickie". He turns to see Meredith, and her family. She asks if he is with Peter, an friend of Meredith's, who she saw on board, but Tom lies that he is travelling alone. They kiss and arrange to meet later.
Back in the cabin, Peter is hurt after he saw them both kissing. Tom opens up about his demons, but asks Peter to list things he likes about Peter (which is the longer, alternative title). As Peter beefs up his friend off-screen, we hear him say that Tom is crushing him ... as he begins to choke. Tom cries hysterically as he kills another loose end.