Learning to Swallow | Chicago Reader

Learning to Swallow

For years Patsy Desmond, subject of a January 2005 Reader cover story, was an enfant terrible of the Chicago boho art scene, semilegendary for her outrageous antics. She was also bipolar and drank and did drugs—and during a paranoid delusional moment tried to commit suicide by chugging drain cleaner. In her first feature veteran PBS documentarian Danielle Beverly picks up Desmond's story after she moves to Florida to recuperate and try to put the pieces of her life back together. She then follows Desmond for several years, showing her traveling to Boston for a marathon surgical procedure that could restore her ability to swallow but doesn't and eventually moving back to Chicago, where she continues her battle with substance abuse and alcoholism while reconnecting with old friends and triumphantly exhibiting some of her photographs. 89 min.

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