HIGH ART: DVD
Syd (Radha Mitchell), is a hardworking twenty-something with a junior editor's job at Frame, a swanky photo magazine in New York, and a routine boyfriend in James (Gabriel Mann). One day, a leak in the ceiling of Syd's apartment opens a whole new world to her. When she goes upstairs to inquire about it, she stumbles into the bohemian world of Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy), a once- famous fashion photographer who vanished from the public eye a decade ago. She lives with her heroin-addicted lover, Greta (Patricia Clarkson), and a bunch of friends who drift in and out as they please. Syd is intrigued by Lucy and the intrigue turns to love, even as her editors press Syd into urging Lucy to do a photo feature for Frame. But Syd's arrival in Lucy's life has other, less happy consequences.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Radha Mitchell delivers a spectacularly convincing and touching performance as Syd in High Art, full of sensuality, honesty and intelligence, vulnerability and inner strength. But she is in good company, with a strikingly powerful Ally Sheedy as Lucy Berliner, the photographer who brings out the lesbian in Syd, while Syd brings back to life Lucy's professional career - albeit temporarily.
The film is an intricate and intimate study of three relationships that intersect. Lucy and Greta (Patricia Clarkson), Syd and James (Gabriel Mann) and finally Syd and Lucy. But it is not so much the 'what' of these lovers' stories that fascinate us, but the 'how' of Cholodenko's filmmaking, which is itself high art, indeed.
She has captured a style somewhere between documentary and refreshed nouvelle vague, if you'll pardon the wafty pretension. While she rejects the need for make up and other embellishments for her characters, Cholodenko fills the screen with enormous love for them, with enormous compassion and understanding which we are invited to share. For example, the Lucy/Greta relationship is exposed with such intimacy we are almost embarrassed to be allowed into their bedroom - and I'm not talking sex.
Then there is the way their bohemian lifestyle is depicted, heroin sniffing and all, without judgement, but neither condoned; she lets us see the consequences, and I can assure you the film is not an encouragement to partake. But the most potent aspect of the film is its ability to make us know these characters so acutely, we feel we have been with them a lot longer than an hour and a half.
Published December 11, 2008
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HIGH ART: DVD (MA15+)
CAST: Ally Sheedy, Radha Mitchell, Patricia Clarkson, Tammy Grimes, Gabriel Mann, Bill Sage, Ann Duong, David Thornton
PRODUCER: Dolly Hall, Jeff Levy-Hinte, Susan A. Stoven
DIRECTOR: Lisa Cholodenko
SCRIPT: Lisa Cholodenko
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tami Reiker
EDITOR: Amy E. Duddleston
MUSIC: Shudder to Think
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bernhard Blythe
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 4, 1999
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Beyond Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: December 1, 2008