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High Art 1998


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3.7 out of 5 stars (30) IMDb 6.7/10

Syd meets Lucy, a legendary photographer, who takes her on an unexpected trip of self discovery. Slowly, Syd learns the dark truths of Lucy's life and she is forced to confront the price she has to pay for recognition and the unpredictable rewards of fame.

David Thornton, Radha Mitchell
Rental Formats:

Product Details

  • Feature ages_18_and_over
Starring David Thornton, Radha Mitchell, Charis Michaelson, Gabriel Mann
Director Lisa Cholodenko
Studio TLA Releasing
Rental release 13 July 2009
Main languages English

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Brrnrrd on 31 Mar. 2005
Format: DVD
There is a theory about 'feel good' films and homosexuals. There was a time when lesbians were always violent psychopaths, as portrayed in 'The Killing of Sister George' - and then people decided that they would make happy-happy films about women who were completely okay with their sexualities despite the disapproval of others. Examples are Better than Chocolate, The incredible adventure of two girls in love. And then, people started to realise that such films were totally removed from reality and did not embrace the fact that not all lesbians/gay men are totally happy. This may have nothing to do with their sexuality, but there is some external force that is making them depressed. In the case of High Art, Lucy, one of the central characters is depressed because her girlfriend is a crackhead and her job in the professional art world is wearing her down mentally. The story has nothing to do with lesbians being strange, messed up creatures - but deals, quite maturely, with people who happen to be lesbians in a tight situation. I think there is often a lot of confusion about the difference between a film such as 'The Killing of Sister George' which is blatantly about victimisation, and High Art which is a bona fide tragedy in itself. Cholodenko has made a superb movie about a delicate and doomed relationship which is shot beautifully, has a lot of artistic and intellectual integrity - and is believable. Lucy and Syd's relationship is never properly consummated because Lucy decides that she doesn't care anymore. Syd's first time with a woman is not washed with yellow light, because it is understood that your first time, however old you are, can be a nerve racking experience.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 11 Feb. 2013
Format: DVD
I had high hopes of this film but in the end I was a bit disappointed after finding The Kids Are All Right so brilliant. This film from about ten years before feels much more like a young person's film, and the "high" in the title is there for a reason - the characters spend quite a lot of time in this state - all the time, in the case of Patricia Clarkson, which I find a bit tedious. It's about a Nan Goldin-type of photographer, but somehow these people sitting around don't quite convey the warmth or vulnerability I've always felt coming from those pictures - or indeed from a film like Paul Morrissey's Trash. Ally Sheedy is very convincing in the role, but I found the character too self-centred and undisciplined to really win me over, or enable me to feel moved at all. In real life, people who never stick to their word, and have to follow their own whim at every turn are quite a pain to deal with, and she was unhelpful right from the first when her neighbour from downstairs came up because there was a leak coming through her ceiling. She reacted in a rather disaffected way, oddly when you consider she must have fancied her straight away, really. I suppose we were meant to feel she was very bogged down in an unsatisfactory relationship, but they're all so spaced out on drugs it's hard to know how they can make sense of anything. What the film does have is a sustained authenticity, you feel, recreating the tone of the lives it shows very accurately and setting the naive girl (played by Radha Mitchell) well against the druggy crowd in the flat upstairs. Not that she treats her boyfriend very well either ...Read more ›
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Oct. 2000
Format: VHS Tape
High Art
Who would have thought that The Breakfast Club and Neighbours would ever meet in celluloid?
Ally Sheedy, never the coolest person in the 80's, and Radha Mitchell, star of Love and Other Catastrophes and Neighbours (!) meet when Lucy's (Sheedy) bath leaks into Syd's (Mitchell) flat. In the great film world of chance both live with the photographic image and while Lucy admits that she 'hasn't been deconstructed for years' the audience are compelled to look for meaning the whole way through.
Don't think that this film is just another girl meets girl love story because it isn't. It's about obsession, ambition, desire and being given the chance to try out being someone new. If this film were a book it would come from the pen of Jeannette Winterson, the mind of William Bouroughs and the heart of an early John Irving.
This film is darker than Bound and not as pretentious as Go Fish. It reaches into the pit of your stomach and the piercing noise that opens the film stays until the closing credits. It's a noise like a small broken heart hiding behind the sofa and as the narrative shoots to its inevitable conclusion your heart vibrates in your chest.
This film works not because the camera created a perfect 'deviant' underworld (of sexuality, drugs, hedonism and apathy) or because the characters were tied in sexual tension, not even because Sheedy and Mitchell filled their roles perfectly. No this film works because the story doesn't glamorise the characters' faults. It inspires you to take pictures and look out for high art.....
Greta, who 'lives for Lucy', is the perfect femme fatale. Destructive, self possessed and unable to function without a constant supply of drugs she acts as the measurement of Syd's respectability and drive.
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