Top positive review
33 people found this helpful
on 31 March 2005
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.
I think the star of the film is 'Greta', Lucy's drug-ridden girlfriend who is the most original antagonist I've seen; Irreverent, larger than life and supremely talented. There is no hope tacked on the end of this film, other than the success of Lucy's photo shoot - which is why I found it so different and enjoyable. It is a challenge, firstly, to those who only want to see Lesbians in happy, or at least redeeming films, and secondly, to those who are thinking of making budget films themselves; the director's commentary is very helpful.