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High Art

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: High Art

Starring: Ally Sheedy, Radha Mitchell
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Rated: R
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: June 1998
Genres: Drama, Gay/Lesbian, Romance


*Also starring: Patricia Clarkson, Tammy Grimes, William Sage, David Thornton



Reviewer Roundup
1.  Walter Frith review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
3.  Mark OHara read the review ---
4.  Susan Granger read the review movie review
5.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie review
6.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

'High Art' is the kind of hard-core art film that cries out for understanding. It's repetitive imagery is a reflection of its surreal, moody and often abbreviated characterizations. It has all the qualities of sleaze, drama, reality and blemishes of the soul that a sophisticated movie buff can and should appreciated. What it lacks in the area of common story telling is compensated by its uncompromising look at the alternative side of some people's lives.

Ally Sheedy stars as Lucy, a semi-retired photographer who never really understood the beauty of her work. She watches over her materialistic mother who spends six thousand dollars in the blink of an eye on her American Express card and can't remember what she spent it on. She and her friends are primarily drug addicts and drifters in life. One in particular (Patricia Clarkson), is a German movie actress of limited stature who doesn't seem to care about the effects of snorting dope and she lives her life in a constant state of flagrancy.

The protagonist in the film is Syd (Radha Mitchell). She is an assistant editor of a fashionable New York City magazine who discovers Lucy's work and asks her superiors if they're interested in looking at her work. Her superiors are aware of who Lucy is. Sort of an underground hero of the photographic art world, Lucy agrees after a meeting with Syd and her superiors, to do a piece for the magazine, and throughout the course of their working relationship, Lucy and Syd become lovers. Greta and Lucy also have a past and they never quite end their relationship until later in the film as the film's sub plot is sort of an exploration of their feelings for each other.

Paced in a very sedate manner, writer/director Lisa Cholodenko finds the emotional core of each character in the film as being very straightforward and brings absolutely no glamour whatsoever to any of their lives or appearances and this is the film's strength. Appearances count for a lot in this film. Sheedy and Mitchell look very comfortable and convincing in their roles and their performances are extraordinarily sharp.

There isn't a false note in this film which runs a perfect 101 minutes. Not too long or too short. It has Oscar worthy performances from Sheedy and Clarkson and after watching Ally Sheedy in films from the 80's such as 'WarGames', 'The Breakfast Club', 'St Elmo's Fire', 'Short Circuit', her career in the 90's has become a true showcase of her real depth and talent as an actress.

As a modern day tale of tragedy, 'High Art' has few flaws and fewer shortcomings and is filled with interpretive dialogue showing the nervous calculation of each life it chooses to document. Some to the extreme and some to a lesser extent. But in the end, one will most likely walk away from it remembering not how it looked but rather how it felt.

Copyright 1998 Walter Frith

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