High Art

What price success? Bright, ambitious, recent college grad Syd (Rahda Mitchell), who's trying to rise through the ranks of pretentious art-photography magazine "Frame," finds out in this perceptive drama. Syd shares a loft apartment with perfectly attractive, intelligent and considerate boyfriend James (Gabriel Mann), and stumbles onto a big break when...read more

Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
Rating:

What price success? Bright, ambitious, recent college grad Syd (Rahda Mitchell), who's trying to rise through the ranks of pretentious art-photography magazine "Frame," finds out in this perceptive drama. Syd shares a loft apartment with

perfectly attractive, intelligent and considerate boyfriend James (Gabriel Mann), and stumbles onto a big break when she discovers that their upstairs neighbor is notorious photographer Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy). Once an art-world flavor-of-the-month by virtue of her sordid autobiographical

photos, Berliner is living in obscurity with her German girlfriend Greta (Patricia Clarkson), a former actress whose claim to fame was having worked with Fassbinder. From the moment Syd steps into Lucy's apartment she's transfixed: by Lucy's extended entourage, beautiful people blissed out on

heroin; by the flirtatious, fluid aura of casual sexuality; by the just plain being bad appeal of the whole scene. Lucy, by contrast, has become bored with the perpetual den of iniquity in her living room, and is attracted to Syd's youthful ambition. Everything in Lucy's life overlaps --

her photography, her drug addiction and her love affairs -- and Syd is inevitably drawn into the volatile miasma. Syd convinces Lucy to accept an assignment from "Frame," and Lucy insists that Syd be her editor, upping her position at the magazine. First-time director Lisa Cholodenko, who has

made a powerful and modish film with a subtle and knowing script, is more than ably assisted by a spectacular cast: former Brat-Packer Sheedy is a revelation, and Patricia Clarkson still nearly steals the show as the drugged-out, occasionally laser-sharp Greta.

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