The literary work of Patricia Highsmith is dominated by her contributions to the psychological thriller, particularly her Tom Ripley series of novels, so it’s intriguing to see some of her more personal work being placed under the public eye. She was a peculiar, contradictory person, but was also (unusually for her time) openly homosexual, and her acute understanding of the social stigma attached to lesbianism is the focus of her book The Price of Salt, skilfully and respectfully adapted for the screen here by her personal friend Phyllis Nagy.

It’s not quite as controversial or as sensationalistic as it sounds. Smoothly and slowly shot by director Todd Haynes (who impressively tackled similar themes in a similar era with Far From Heaven), it plays out as a fairly straightforward melodrama, with the gay aspect of the love triangle being the obvious, effective twist, anchored by two beautifully contrasting performances from Cate Blanchett (silky and catlike) and Rooney Mara (skittish and vulnerable). Ultimately though, this is a story about female desire, and one which doesn’t end in death and disaster for once, and such a rarity should be applauded and encouraged.

A film made mainly by women, about women, and women's desire8
Phyllis Nagy's screenplay not shying away from women's desire8
Todd Haynes and cinematographer Ed Lachman making it all look very pretty8
Two brilliant performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara8
Such a shame that it ultimately adds up to little more than a romantic melodrama5
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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