High Art
HIGH ART. 1998

Director: Lisa Cholodenko

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Imagine a film about drug addiction devoid of grittiness & you're on the way to understanding the High Art (1998) perspective on spoiled privileged people slowly doing themselves in. Their struggles are so without edginess that it's like trying to get worked up over what color paint is most interesting to watch dry.

A good cast doesn't save this barely watchable film about phony intellectuals, would-be bohemians, unfaithful lovers, & alleged artists ruining their easy lives by becoming cokeheads. That everyone's drug addiction is conveyed by the same zombie-like acting means nobody has much individuality to their acting or personas.

The main fukbuddies are Ally Sheedy as Lucy the jaded photographer who already knows that success is hollow, & the nascent baby-dyke Syd (Rhada Mithcell) who still lives with her boyfriend & is battling her way to the top of her insignificant publishing firm not yet knowing success is meaningless. Lucy's older lover is played by Patricia Clarkson whose zombie-act is more over the top than the other zombies but nevertheless one of Clarkson's worst performances.

Without the novelty of the key characters being lesbians, there'd be nothing going on here of even slight interest, because it wasn't possible to care one whit about the fates of these people. Well, one might care marginally about Lucy, the only one who seems likely to even want to reassess the stupidity of these characters' collective existence. But even with her almost-complex character, it's obvious that by cavalierly involving her childlike "new" lover Syd in the drug scene, even Lucy was headed for repetition of past mistakes, dragging new blood down with her in a predatory manner.

Whatever mild exploitation value might have been squeezed out of seeing Sheedy play-acting at being a dyke who boinks both the much older Clarkson & the much younger Mitchell is spoiled by the overall Indy Arthouse Self-importance oozing out of a film about little more than the consequences of being inconsequential. That the director ended up in television doing episodic work is totally comprehensible.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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