[Screen It]

 

"HIGH ART"
(1998) (Radha Mitchell, Ally Sheedy) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Extreme None *Mild Minor None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Heavy Minor Mild None


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A young magazine editor begins an affair with her neighbor and new client, a former professional photographer, who hasn't worked in years since she became disillusioned by the industry.
PLOT:
Syd (RADHA MITCHELL) is a twenty-four-year-old assistant editor for a photography magazine. Living with her boyfriend, James (GABRIEL MANN), she meets her enigmatic neighbor, Lucy Berliner (ALLY SHEEDY), after noticing a plumbing leak coming from the apartment above her's. Lucy, a former professional photographer who gave up the business a decade ago, now spends time with her lesbian lover, Greta (PATRICIA CLARKSON), a former German actress, and an assortment of other people who come to her place to do drugs. Noticing Lucy's pictures, Syd later persuades the editors at her magazine to look at her new friend's work, and they jump at the chance when they learn they might be working with this famed, but long absent photographer. As Syd and Lucy begin their professional collaboration, however, they also begin a passionate, but troubled romance.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're drawn by someone in the cast, it's not very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong sexuality, pervasive drug use and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • RADHA MITCHELL plays an assistant editor at a photography magazine who lives with her boyfriend. After meeting Lucy, she begins to occasionally do drugs and begins a lesbian relationship with her.
  • ALLY SHEEDY plays a famous photographer, drug addict and lesbian who begins an affair with the much younger Syd.
  • PATRICIA CLARKSON plays the former actress and Lucy's lesbian lover who's now become a heavy drug addict.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
    A tale of a young and impressionable woman who is seduced by a more decadent side of life, "High Art" features some well written characters that result in several good performances. However, the film ultimately suffers from a sloth-like plot that, beyond being slow, also fails to draw much empathy from the audience. While this picture will never break out from its select urban theater locations, it may become popular among its highly targeted audience.

    As such, first time writer and director Lisa Cholodenko does a decent job in her big screen debut and won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Much stronger in characterization than plotting, she creates people who are interesting and complex beings. While Cholodenko presents a moderately interesting plot, the fact that it's often unbearably slow and closely resembles the methodic and "hazy" behavior of her drugged out characters doesn't exactly benefit this novice auteur.

    The performances, however, are quite good. Thirty-five-year-old Ally Sheedy, who "grew up" during the 1980's in films such as "War Games," "The Breakfast Club," and "Short Circuit," plays so far against her old stereotype that it's amazing that this is the same actress. Looking and emoting like a much older, world-weary and weathered character, she's completely believable in her role. Although her character is never really likeable and thus doesn't elicit much sympathy from the audience, she's always interesting to watch. There's no doubt that this is Sheedy's best performance of her career and it may land her stronger roles down the road.

    The same holds true for Radha Mitchell (1996's "Love and Other Catastrophes"). Completely engaging in her role as the young woman whose life is changing before her own eyes, Mitchell perfectly balances her character's aggressive work-related tendencies with her completely believable, youth-based insecurities. With a natural beauty about her and a strong, personable acting style, don't be surprised to see Mitchell doing bigger and better things in the future.

    Meanwhile, although Patricia Clarkson ("Jumanji") is quite good as the drug-addicted German actress, her character is so zoned out and lethargic that she comes off as neither sympathetic nor likeable. While it's a testament to Clarkson's acting, her character's presence on screen is nearly always disagreeable and definitely isn't fun to behold.

    While some may find the film's pacing congruous with the storyline -- a slow developing love affair that's in no hurry to get its characters in bed -- I found the proceedings a bit slow and mostly too predictable (although the end, while not outrageously surprising, does come out of the blue). Even so, the performances keep the film interesting and they should please audiences not taken aback by the lesbianism or rampant drug use. We give "High Art" -- a decent, but not great writing and directorial debut from Cholodenko -- a 4.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    While it's doubtful many kids will want to see this film, here's a quick look at the content. Drug use is extreme with most of the characters snorting drugs and one shooting up heroin, and nearly everyone smokes and drinks liquor as well. The main characters have a lesbian affair and we see several passionate encounters between them, and one between Syd and her boyfriend although we don't ever see anything too graphic. Finally, and beyond there being extreme profanity (37 "f" words), most of the other categories have little or no major objectionable material. Even so, we strongly suggest that you look through the scene listings should someone in your home wish to see this film.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Most of the main characters, including Lucy, Greta, and Syd snort what looks like cocaine, but must be some sort of heroin (due to its sedative, and not energizing qualities). Other minor characters do this as well and we see many scenes of all of them snorting drugs. A character nearly overdoses, while another dies (apparently from doing drugs, but we never see this and it's somewhat implied).
  • Another character "shoots up" with heroin.
  • Syd and James have cocktails.
  • Lucy and Greta have drinks.
  • Lucy brings Syd a beer.
  • People drink at a party.
  • Lucy drinks in restaurants in several scenes and appears somewhat intoxicated.
  • Lucy and Syd drink wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Obviously some may see the characters' use of drugs as displaying both, and/or may also see the lesbian behavior the same way.
  • Syd has an affair with Lucy (and thus both cheat on their respective lovers).
  • Syd's boss takes credit for rediscovering Lucy the photographer.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Syd and Lucy rush into the bathroom where they find Greta not breathing (from an apparent drug overdose) and Syd must briefly give her mouth to mouth resuscitation to save her life.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrase: What sounded like "Eat me."
  • Nearly everyone drinks, smokes, and does drugs.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 37 "f" words (1 used sexually), 7 "s" words, and 1 use each of "G-damn" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see the side of Syd's upper thigh as she sits on a toilet.
  • We just a part of Syd's bare butt (as it sticks up out of the water) as she lies in a bathtub.
  • Lucy and Greta make out on a couch and Lucy feels Greta's clothed breast. She then undoes Greta's shirt (we see her in her bra) and undoes her pants and kisses her on her stomach and chest (but they stop at that moment).
  • Syd imagines a photograph (showing a woman with her hand up another woman's shirt) coming to life and we see two women kissing and one caressing the other's breast.
  • Another character shows some cleavage in her outfit.
  • Under the influence of drugs, Syd climbs on top of James in bed and begins kissing him. They passionately kiss, he feels her clothed butt, and she momentarily grinds away on his crotch. Other than that and lots of heavy breathing, nothing else happens.
  • Lucy and Syd sensuously kiss on Lucy's bed (but are interrupted before anything else happens).
  • Lucy feels Syd's breast, and later we briefly see Syd's bare breast as Lucy kisses it.
  • We see the side of Syd's breast while she lies in bed in a photograph.
  • It's implied that Lucy and Syd have sex, but we never see anything more than the above
  • SMOKING
  • Lucy smokes many times during the movie, while Syd, James, Lucy's mother and other people smoke a few times.
  • People smoke at parties, restaurants and in the background of other scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • There are a few scenes where Lucy is concerned with her mother's mental health and, in turn, her mother still doesn't approve of Lucy's lesbian lifestyle (but there are no big arguments).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The rampant drug use in the movie.
  • Lesbianism.
  • VIOLENCE
  • None.



  • Reviewed May 7, 1998

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [Collateral Beauty] [La La Land] [Manchester By The Sea] [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2017 Screen It, Inc.