Author Patricia Highsmith achieved international fame with 1950’s “Strangers on a Train” and 1955’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” but a new documentary reveals that her private life has been more diverse than her novels.
Director Eva Vetiga has taken up many of Highsmith’s personal notes and memoirs for “Loving Highsmith”. The film, which will screen at the 2022 Provincetown International Film Festival in Provincetown, Massachusetts, this week ahead of a planned wider release, is a compelling look at Highsmith’s romantic relationships with women during her lifetime.
Highsmith, who was born in Texas, spent most of her adult life in Europe, and settled in Switzerland. She died in 1995 at the age of 74, just four years before “The Talented Mr. Ripley” was turned into a glamorous movie starring Matt Damon and Jude Law.
The author made great use of her life while writing the 1952 gay romance The Price of Salt, which was published under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan. In 1990, the book was republished as “Carol”, this time as Highsmith. The book was the basis for the 2015 film starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.
Watch the “Loving Highsmith” trailer below.
“Loving Highsmith” features interviews with several of Highsmith’s surviving girlfriends, and paints the author as a somewhat divisive character in the bizarre literary canon. It is believed that she viewed homosexuality as a psychological disorder, often conflating homosexuality with murder, most notably in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Patricia Highsmith was a child of her age. Vetiga told Variety in April that she was not campaigning for gay rights. “For her, love is such a brutal experience that ended her life as a person that it’s a death experience, so murder is never far away. In Carol’s love scenes and how she describes it, death is always around the corner.”
However, Vetiga emphasizes that Highsmith’s “poetic and unbridled romantic side” is the focal point of her film. “Patricia Highsmith was very different from the ones I had read about in autobiographies or chiefly newspaper articles,” she said.
The Provincetown International Film Festival will screen “Loving Highsmith” on Thursday and Saturday. Other highlights of the five-day event, running from Wednesday to Sunday, include Sundance Audience winner “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and gay romantic comedy “Fire Island” starring Joel Kim Buster and Bowen Yang.
Organizers say the festival will also feature local filmmakers such as Todd Flaherty, whose black comedy “Chrissy Judy” will have its world premiere on Thursday.
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