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Loving Highsmith

(2022) *** Unrated
83 min. Zeitgeist Films. Director: Eva Vitija. Cast: Gwendoline Christie.

/content/films/5243/1.jpgI suspect the late Patricia Highsmith—the great novelist and source of many triumphant cinematic adaptations—would hate Loving Highsmith, Eva Vitija's engrossing documentary account of her life and loves. Like most biographies of artists (especially dead ones), Loving Highsmith mostly takes for granted that privacy has flown out the window for the celebrity figure in question. To tell Highsmith's story, in a somewhat more enlightened age readier to reckon with the author's lesbian identity, Vitija interviews several of Highsmith's surviving lovers and a few family members; she also enlists actor Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones) to read from Highsmith's voluminous diaries as well as her novels. Highsmith's prose, alternately earthy and soaring, best reveals the breadth of her personality, but the perspectives of her lovers humanize her to a more relatable degree (the film only glancingly addresses Highsmith's much-discussed racism, including virulent anti-Semitism that heightened in later life). Archival interview clips of Highsmith and film clips from the adaptations of Strangers on a Train, the groundbreaking lesbian romance Carol (a.k.a. The Price of Salt), and the Ripley novels (The Talented Mr. Ripley and The American Friend, adapted from Ripley's Game) round out this intriguing portrait of Highsmith's legacy, personality, and psychology.

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