Suspense novelist Patricia Highsmith will forever be known as the scribe behind “Strangers on a Train,” which has been adapted for the big screen over two dozen times (and most memorably by Hitchcock himself), but Highsmith also wrote another seminal work of fiction whose influence arguably surpassed “Strangers.” Two years after publishing “Strangers,” Highsmith adopted the pseudonym Claire Morgan to pen a very important piece of homosexual fiction – “The Price of Salt.” Despite the book’s ground-breaking portrayal of a lesbian relationship in the 1950s, the book has yet to yield a full-scale cinematic adaption – but that’s changed now.

News from Cannes (our new favorite kind of news!) reports that John Crowley (who previously directed the achingly beautiful and deeply sad Boy A) will direct a big screen take on the book, now titled just Carol for the film, that will star Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska as the lovers, Therese and Carol.

The film centers on the unexpected and potentially dangerous relationship between two very different women in 1950s New York City. Wasikowska’s character, Therese, is a twentysomething department store clerk who is struck by Blanchett’s dazzling Carol, a glamorous customer in her store. Both women are stuck in unfulfilling lives and saddled with unfulfilling relationships (Therese doesn’t much care for her boyfriend, and Carol’s marriage is crumbling). Their relationship unfolds naturally, with the pair spending a lot of time together before realizing that their feelings go behind friendship. But the pair have to contend with not only the conventions of the day, but also a looming trial (intrigue!) that threatens their happiness. And, well, fine, Blanchett and Wasikowska are totally going to get down.

Highsmith’s novel is considered a significant piece of homosexual fiction for a number of reasons, including Highsmith’s depiction of Therese and Carol as “unconventional” characters who busted out of the mold of earlier lesbian pulp novels of the day. There’s also the book’s ending, which I won’t reveal here, but you can find on the book’s Wikipedia page.

The film’s script has been adapted by Phyllis Nagy (who previously wrote and directed the Annette Bening-starring Mrs. Harris television movie) and the film is set to start shooting in February in London and New York. [Press Release]

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