Patricia Highsmith
Loving Highsmith

I am determined to make a good thing of every catastrophe of my life.

The Dark Lady of American Letters

Highsmith wrote 22 novels and numerous short stories, as an important author of the time, she was widely known for her psychological thrillers, crimes, murders, and homosexuality writings. In her cinematic writings, she excelled in building a world with secrets and obsessions, depicting the tensions between people and the complex mental condition. Her work has led to more than two dozen world-renowned film adaptations. Among them, released in recent years, the film "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, as well as the latest film "Deep Water" starring Ben Affleck, released in the United States in 2022.

Highsmith was born in 1921 in Fort Worth, Texas, US, and raised by her grandmother. She moved to New York with her parents in 1927 and was sent back to Texas for a year. Not until she was 21 years old, did she change her last name to her stepfather's, Highsmith. She was forced to hide her sexuality and to search for a cure, which caused a tense relationship between Highsmith and her mother. This such tension impacted on her works, where she mined her multiple identities and her two-faced life.

Early in her career, she wrote the scripts for Timely Comics and Atlas Comics (the former company of Marvel Comics) for living. Published in 1950, the novel "Strangers on a Train" has first received great success. The year after, as her very first film adaptation of her work, the novel was adapted into a movie, directed by Hitchcock. Furthermore, the "Edgar Allan Poe Scroll" awarded novel, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" released in 1955, made the main character Tom Ripley the most renowned antihero, and yet extended to a series. "The Talented Mr. Ripley" was adapted into a movie in 1999, directed by Anthony Minghella, with Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow in leading roles.

While homosexuality was still seen as taboo in the 1950s, Highsmith mined her personal life experience for the content, and published the first lesbian novel with a happy ending, "The Price of Salt", under the pen name "Claire Morgan". The novel was all the rage at the time and became a must-read classic among the lesbians.

Although the novel received such success, Highsmith insisted on publishing all the editions by using her pseudonym. Not until the 1990s, did the novel be republished under her own name.

In 1995, Highsmith passed away at the age of 74. Her personal diaries and notebooks have been found and published after her death. Based on these writings, the film "Loving, Highsmith" sheds new light on the life of Highsmith.

“Writing is a substitute for the life I unable to live.“——Patricia Highsmith

A Life of Darkness and Romance

Loving Highsmith is a unique look at the life of celebrated American author Patricia Highsmith based on her diaries and notebooks and the intimate reflections of her lovers, friends and family. Focusing on Highsmith’s quest for love and her troubled identity, the film sheds new light on her life and writing.

Most of Highsmith’s novels were adapted for the big screen; the best known of these are Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Carol, a partly autobiographic novel, was the first lesbian story with a happy end in 1950s America. But Highsmith herself was forced to lead a double life and had to hide her vibrant love affairs from her family and the public. Only in her unpublished writings she reflected on the ever-present subject for her.

Excerpts from these notes voiced by Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, Top of the Lake), beautifully interwoven with archive material of her and her most famous novel adaptions, create a vivid, touching portrait of one of the most fascinating female writers.

About the Director Eva Vitija

Born in 1973 in Basel. Graduated from the DFFB (German Film and Television Academy Berlin), majored in screenwriting in 2002. She has been working as a screenwriter in Switzerland and Germany since her screenplay training. She has written many feature film scripts for cinema and television, including "MEIER, MARILYN", "MADLY IN LOVE" as well as "SOMMERVÖGEL". In 2015, as part of her Master’s degree at the ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts), she made her first feature-length documentary film as a director: DAS LEBEN DREHEN. It was nominated as best documentary for the Swiss Film prize and for an award from the International Documentary Association, Los Angeles, and won various prizes, including the Prix de Soleure, the Basel film Prize and the Zurich Film Prize.

More Photos from the Set

Patricia Highsmith Chronology

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Published the short story "The Heroine", received the "O. Henry Award"
Published the first novel "Strangers on a Train"
Published the novel "The Price of Salt" under the pseudonym "Claire Morgan"
Published the novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley", awarded the "Edgar Allan Poe Scroll" in the US and the "Grand Prix de Littérature Policière" in France
Moved to Europe, regularly traveled between the United States and Europe
Moved to France
President of the jury at the 28th "Berlin International Film Festival"
Settled in Ticino, Switzerland
Republished the novel "Carol" (originally "The Price of Salt") under her own name
At rest