«The difference between dream and reality is the true hell» is a line from one of Patricia Highsmith’s later novels, Edith’s Diary. It tells the story of a middle-aged suburban housewife who fantasizes about an alternate life through obsessive diary entries amid repressed frustration and despair with her discordant family life. The psychological thriller was fictional, but as Highsmith herself acknowledges in footage in Eva Vitija’s documentary Loving Highsmith, the sense of an existence hemmed in by social conventions and stifling conformity was one that the famous American writer and lifelong diary-keeper had come to understand only too well. Highsmith, who was born in 1921, was a lesbian when this was considered a shameful family secret in Texas, an identity many veiled by discretion, if not totally disavowed. The film about the late author’s life, which screens this month at the Docaviv International Documentary Film Festival in Tel Aviv, is a compelling portrait, first and foremost, of the obstacles to an authentic life that homophobia constructs and Highsmith’s determined quest for a «happy ending» of her own, or at least, a situation that was emotionally bearable, and creatively fruitful.
Highsmith became well-known for her psychological thrillers, many of which were made into successful movies, including her 1950 Strangers on a Train, adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and her 1955 . . .
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