Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  High Art A picture would last longer
Year: 1998
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Stars: Ally Sheedy, Radha Mitchell, Patricia Clarkson, Gabriel Mann, Charis Michelson, David Thornton, Anh Duong, Helen Mendes, Bill Sage, Tammy Grimes, Cindra Feuer, Anthony Ruivivar, Elaine Tse, Rudolf Martin, Laura Ekstrand
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Syd (Radha Mitchell), struggling assistant editor of a trendy New York arts magazine, is drawn to investigate her neighbours upstairs when water keeps dripping from her apartment ceiling. She discovers photographer Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy) and her German girlfriend Greta (Patricia Clarkson) who live a drug-fuelled lifestyle amidst their coterie of decadent friends, having shunned the art scene. Syd persuades Lucy to launch a “comeback” with a photo-spread for her magazine and gradually begins a passionate affair that alienates Greta and her own, martini-swilling boyfriend James (Gabriel Mann). But this new romance cannot assuage Lucy’s growing problems with Greta and the pressures from compromising her art, and she enters a downward spiral.

Back during the more conservative 1950s, movies commonly lambasted the art world as shallow and exploitative, and would often have their characters find salvation in love, friends, family and middle-class values. Fast-forward to the grunge rock Nineties and High Art takes it as given that the art scene is a cesspool of parasites - e.g. Syd’s ridiculously venal and opportunistic editor. Love, in the form of two heroin-addled lesbians, is just another layer to this claustrophobic existence from which the only escape lies at the end of a needle. It is a bleak, despairing assessment, yet often moving in its portrayal of flawed, frustrated characters searching in vain for that life-giving breath of fresh air.

The film marked a minor comeback for former Brat Pack actress Ally Sheedy, whose intense performance garnered a number of indie accolades. Certainly those more familiar with junk like The Breakfast Club (1985) or Short Circuit (1986), will be startled by her haggard and hollow-eyed turn here, but this is really a three-hander and her co-stars deserve equal praise. Patricia Clarkson is unforgettable as Greta, a smack-addled harpy and former actress forever name-dropping Rainer Werner Fassbinder as a reminder of past glories. Radha Mitchell - a few years before her flirtation with mainstream stardom in Pitch Black (2000) and Melinda and Melinda (2004) - excels as Syd, alluring yet enigmatic. We’re never certain whether Syd is just an art leech latched onto Lucy, or genuinely falling in love and frightened by the strength of her feelings. Or perhaps a little of both.

With sex scenes that reveal more about characters’ need for emotional intimacy rather than titillate, writer-director Lisa Cholodenko delivers a sense that Lucy sees in Syd, a vitality and spark missing from her “glamorous” life with the increasingly unstable, disaffected Greta. Cholodenko offers a non-judgmental view drug consumption, but doesn’t glamorise it either. Her movie proceeds leisurely as if filtered through a solipsistic, drug-fuelled haze, while even the non-drug using characters come across as introverted and apathetic. Yet the tone is one of gentle sadness rather than hand-wringing horror, reminding us these are loving human beings. Great soundtrack by Shudder To Think, especially the haunting closer: “She Might Be Waking Up.”

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 4012 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Darren Jones
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: