High Art (1998)

LISA CHOLODENKO

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB

Canada/USA, 1998.  391 Productions, Antidote Films, October Films.  Screenplay by Lisa Cholodenko.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by , , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

An intoxicating performance by Ally Sheedy makes this a very captivating film. Radha Mitchell (also excellent) plays a young, apologetic assistant editor at a swanky art magazine who meets her upstairs neighbour (Sheedy), only to discover that she is a great photographer who no longer works professionally. She persuades her new friend to come out of hiding to shoot material for the magazine’s cover, not realizing that Sheedy left the business because of the emotionally devastating experiences she once had when she was at the height of her fame. Sheedy, on the other hand, is so attracted to this young woman, even indulging in an affair with her, that she courts the danger and goes for the job anyway.  Patricia Clarkson is terrifying as Sheedy’s drug-addicted live-in girlfriend, but even though all the performances are so brilliant and Lisa Cholodenko’s directorial style is undeniably powerful, her story indulges in too much of the characters’ wanton drug-taking and not enough in the relationships she is showing. The dialogue is wonderful, but so many possibilities are ignored that the eventual outcome of its protagonists is forced and unbelievable.

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