Quickie Review: My Psychedelic Love Story

Psych Love 200x300 - Quickie Review: My Psychedelic Love StoryThis latest documentary from Academy Award winning filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War, The Thin Blue Line) centers on Joanna Harcourt-Smith and her relationship with the father of psychedelics, Timothy Leary. They met in 1972 after he’d escaped from prison in California and was hiding out in Switzerland. She was 27 and he was 52. And they had what they both described as a perfect love. They tripped their way around Europe, just ahead of Interpol, hanging with the rich and famous, until they were captured in Afghanistan and shipped back to the US. And once he was jailed again, she set herself to work to get him sprung. But when he finally did get out, and they were put into witness protection, he dumped her. While Leary is a fascinating character, My Psychedelic Love Story is really Harcourt-Smith’s movie. And she’s a hoot, though probably not the most reliable narrator.

From beginning to end Harcourt-Smith peppers her tale of her brief time with Leary(just 5 years, including his jail time) with anecdotes about their celebrities pals, from Diane von Furstenberg to Keith Richards to Warhol and many more, though sometimes the name dropping feels a bit too forced. Do we really need her to mention that Adnan Khashoggi gave her some Qaaludes?

The most interesting part of the film is the question posed by Morris (as well as by Allen Ginsberg and his friends of the time): was Harcourt-Smith a CIA plant working to bring down Leary because Nixon had it in for him? She side-steps the question, saying she was just a naive girl. And why did Leary end up working for the DEA? There’s a lot more to the story than Harcourt-Smith wanted to talk about. She died in October of this year. My Psychedelic Love Story is an entertaining trip through 1970s drug culture. You’ll have more questions than answers by the end. But that’s okay.

Streaming now on Showtime.

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