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Now screening: Documentary on life and loves of Patricia Highsmith

The life and work of revered crime novelist and super-lesbian Patricia Highsmith receives fresh attention in the new doco Loving Highsmith, including the testimony of former lovers.

Screenings of Loving Highsmith start on Friday September 9 at Film Forum. Get tickets here.

Film Forum is pleased to present the US theatrical premiere of Eva Vitija’s Loving Highsmith on Friday, and kicks off with a special presentation of films adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s writings including the Todd Haynes feature film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett.

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995), not unlike her infamous protagonist, the charming and deadly Tom Ripley, led a double life. She hid her lesbianism from her family and reading public — however, lesbians know well that she wrote The Price of Salt under a pseudonym, only admitting to authorship later in life, but even then claiming she wrote the lesbian-themed novel when she was ill with a fever.

As biographer Joan Schenkar noted, Highsmith’s psychological thrillers were informed by her closeted love life and her fixations on women, starting with her mother and continuing with her pursuit of women who were often straight and married. But this might be the first time on film that Highsmith’s intertwined sexuality and creativity have been complexly explored with filmmaker Vitija’s excavated diary entries dramatically voiced by actress Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), as former lovers and “conquests” testify to a driven personality whose private notebooks and diaries, found posthumously in a laundry closet, detail multitudinous turbulent affairs.

While it is well documented that Highsmith was part of New York City’s vibrant but underground gay and lesbian scene in the 1940s and 1950s, it might be less well known that Highsmith effectively sought out conversion therapy so that she could be “cured” and marry a man named Marc Brandel. She notes in her diary at the time that the therapy sessions are doomed to fail and she would rather seduce the other women in the group than become straight.

Loving Highsmith premiered at the 2022 Provincetown International Film Festival and was later featured at the 2022 Outfest, Los Angeles.

U.S./U.K., 2015
Directed by Todd Haynes
Starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy
Thursday, September 8 at 3:00, 8:00 at Film Forum

Queer Forty Staff

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